The European Union reached a deal to pass new climate legislation aimed at reducing methane emissions that would impose new import restrictions on foreign energy suppliers, including the United States. File photo by Orestis Panagiotou/EPA-EFE
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Ministers of the European Union reached a deal on Wednesday to pass new climate legislation aimed at reducing methane emissions, while imposing new import restrictions on foreign energy suppliers, including the United States.
The European Parliament and the European Council, which collectively serve as the primary governing bodies of the 27-nation bloc, reached consensus on Europe's first provisional regulations to curtail harmful gas emissions from fossil fuels.
The agreement was also critical to delivering on climate goals set under the European Green Deal of 2020, which aims to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% before 2030, the European Commission said in statement praising the deal.
There was no visible opposition to the bill as it sailed through EU ministerial scrutiny, but the proposal still faces final approval by both the Parliament and the EU heads of state.
The proposed law would force the oil, gas and coal industry to continually evaluate methane emissions, conduct regular atmospheric monitoring for the presence of greenhouse gases, and prohibit controlled burns of natural gases at refineries and other work facilities.
By 2027, the legislation would also ban pollutant gases from being released directly into the atmosphere without combustion, a process known as "venting."
Another major provision in the law targets oil and gas imports, which currently constitute about 80% of the EU's annual consumption, forcing global companies to meet tougher emissions standards on par with the EU's before distributors are permitted to move fuel into the region.
Wednesday's agreement materialized two weeks ahead of the COP28 summit, where EU leaders plan to put pressure on international partners to adopt similar measures to reduce methane emissions.
The legislation also comes two years after the U.S. and Brussels established the Global Methane Pledge at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, which noted the role of hydrocarbon gases in contributing to a 30% increase in global temperatures over the past two decades.
Members of the Council and Parliament have been pushing the European Commission to adopt a policy that would establish methane intensity limits for fossil fuel imports and impose financial penalties on companies that fail to comply with the rules starting in 2030.