**Check against delivery**

 

Opening remarks

Honourable members,

Thank you for inviting me to this timely discussion.

The Commission welcomes the Parliament’s own initiative report on our methane strategy prepared by Ms Spiraki and its recommendations. Many of them are in line and endorse the actions set out in the Commission’s strategy.

Methane has accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times and is proliferating faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s.

The most rapid and cost-effective methane emissions savings can be achieved in the energy sector.

This is why we are preparing a legislative proposal to reduce methane emissions in the energy sector for adoption in December this year.

It will rest on the following key pillars:

  • Improve the accuracy of information on the exact amounts and main sources of methane emissions to allow for more effective and more targeted methane abatement measures;
  • Achieve immediate emission reductions across the energy supply chain, by intervening on those fronts where action is possible. This includes mandatory leak detection and repair and limiting venting and flaring.

We are also exploring the possibility to incentivise methane emission reductions outside the EU, from our trading partners. The EU is a global fossil fuel importer and must use this leverage to foster methane emissions commitments among its suppliers. This can only be a progressive process. We will work on further measures once more accurate and reliable data becomes available.

I also want to underline that alongside this proposal, we have been working with our energy partners and other key fossil importing countries to tackle methane emissions globally.

Thanks to EU energy diplomacy and partnership with UNEP, in October 2020 the independent International Methane Emissions Observatory was created.

Furthermore, in September 2021, the Union and the United States announced the Global Methane Pledge, which represents a political commitment to reduce collectively global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

So far, 36 countries have committed their support, representing one third of total world methane emissions. Many more are expected to join.  The Pledge will be launched at the COP 26 in Glasgow.

The European Parliament report also covers environmental legislation. We are now reviewing these parts and the options set out in the EP report in the ongoing impact assessments.

Moreover, the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive will look into measures to address methane emissions from relevant sectors (agriculture, industry and energy) – whilst ensuring there is no overlap in regulation.

Agriculture has also a significant potential to deliver on methane emissions savings. A range of mitigation technologies and practices are available. These are mainly related to improvement of animal diets, herd management, manure management and soil protection, breeding, herd health and animal welfare.

The current Common Agriculture Policy is supporting mitigation actions for methane reduction in the livestock sector.

In the post-2020 CAP, the higher level of flexibility will give Member States the possibility to design specific combination of interventions for reducing emission from agriculture. The Commission is encouraging Member States to include methane reduction schemes in their strategic plans for the CAP.

A significant share of global methane emissions in the agricultural sector originates outside of the EU. The Commission and Member States have been very active in various international fora for reducing emissions from agricultural and agro-food systems.

In conclusion, I do welcome the Spiraki report and take it as an encouragement for the Commission to move forward with bold and concrete legislative measures. I am looking forward to continuing the excellent cooperation with the Parliament on this topic.

 

Concluding Remarks

 

Thank you for all your interventions today.

Most of those relate to three most important sectors where methane emissions can successfully address them and therefore I will also reply on these three sectors.

As concerns energy, many of the issues included in the report and which you also mentioned today, such as the call to establish binding rules on measuring, reporting and verification of methane emissions and mandatory leak detection and repair are planned to be covered in our December legislative proposal.

As regards a possible question whether in view of the increasing energy prices we should impose additional burden on fossil fuel producers who bring energy into the EU; actually, the higher the gas prices, the higher the cost-effectiveness of the measures to mitigate methane emissions. Methane should be used as energy rather than escape into the atmosphere.

On the international side, the International Methane Emissions Observatory will provide reliable data on methane emissions and will therefore represent a powerful tool to drive global action to reduce global methane emissions.

The Global Methane Pledge, as a joint EU-US initiative represents a strong outcome of our renewed transatlantic agenda to continue and strengthen our cooperation on climate change and decarbonisation of energy. It includes a commitment to move towards using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources.

As concerns the environmental legislation, we are reviewing the Industrial Emissions Directive, the Sewage Sludge Directive, the Urban Waste Water Directive, and the Landfill Directive. Although it is too early to go into more details, I hope that during the review process we will be able to address most of these issues mentioned in the report.

As concerns agriculture, the current Common Agriculture Policy is supporting mitigation actions for methane reduction in the livestock sector mainly through the Pillar II Rural Development Programming. This includes investments for modernization of animal housing, the creation of local innovation groups with farmers and specific thematic focus groups of the European Innovation Partnership on methane emission reduction and carbon sequestration in grasslands.

Also, the EU Soil Strategy has the potential to become a milestone in EU policies related to healthy environment on the long-run.

The legislative ecosystem represented by the Green Deal will directly and indirectly affect millions of lives and jobs in all sectors and the Commission is particularly careful to ensure the fair and just green transition for all, especially in vulnerable groups in the energy, agri-food and other sectors.

In the post-2020 CAP, Member States will have the possibility to design specific combination of interventions, reducing emission from agriculture. Still, rural development programmes will be the main tool for supporting investment, innovation, knowledge transfer, advisory services. Finally, as already mentioned, the Commission is encouraging Member States to include methane reduction schemes in their strategic plans for the CAP.

Thank you for bringing to my attention many important issues concerning the reduction of methane emissions in your interventions today and of course in the report.

I am pleased to see that our level of ambition in reducing methane emissions is very much aligned and therefore I am looking forward to continue working on this topic with the Parliament.