Methane to become key criteria for future EU energy imports

(Reuters) - The EU will increasingly use methane emissions as a criteria for deciding who it buys energy from in the future, an official said at a U.N. methane conference, urging other major importers to do the same.

Government officials, businesses and civil society groups are gathering in Geneva from March 18-21 for the biggest ever meeting on methane emissions reduction, with over 1,000 participants from 100 countries. Methane is the second-biggest cause of climate change after carbon dioxide and in the short term has a far higher warming effect despite having a much shorter lifespan in the world's atmosphere than other gases.

"Methane is going to be one of the main criteria the EU is going to use in future to choose from where to purchase oil and gas and coal," said Alessia Clocchiatti, team leader on methane international and fossil fuel phase out at the European Commission. "We will pay increasing attention to the environmental impact and carbon intensity," she said.

The EU reached a deal in November to place methane emissions limits on Europe's oil and gas imports from 2030, pressuring international suppliers to clamp down on leaks.

Clocchiatti said that under new policies, the EU would create "methane performance profiles" by country and company and those that took actions to abate emissions would receive a "preferred channel".

"The EU as a major importer has not only the opportunity but very much the responsibility to shape a global market over what oil and gas we import," she said.

But domestic legislation by itself would not be enough and she urged other countries to "join forces" with the EU.

The Geneva forum aims to help countries take concrete action on methane emissions reductions by improving data collection and sharing and developing successful financing strategies ahead of the COP29 climate summit in November in Azerbaijan, said organizers the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.


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