Climate: US tightens methane regulations – politics

China recently presented a 14-page methane gas reduction plan. This report does not contain concrete figures or data regarding overall reductions and contains many individual specifications, most of which are not specific, for example more methane coming out of coal mines should be used.

National methane plan

The EU parliament and other countries also agreed in mid-November to tighten regulations for the oil, gas and coal industries – with a clear timetable. Here too, oil and gas plant operators must regularly look for and repair large methane leaks. Methane burning is prohibited in many places.

“Overall, the Global Methane Pledge has succeeded in drawing attention to the issue,” said climate officer at Germanwatch, Thea Uhlich. In fact, the US and EU referred to many new international initiatives and funding, including from private foundations, in the joint letter. 50 countries are in the process of developing national methane plans.

“Ultimately, what matters is whether GMP actually leads to reductions in methane gas that would not occur without GMP,” Uhlich said. There is still a lack of data to assess success.

According to the European Environment Agency, the EU has reduced methane emissions by 36 percent between 1990 and 2020. This occurred mainly in the energy and waste sectors. According to the Federal Environmental Agency (Uba), Germany even reduced its methane emissions by 66 percent between 1990 and 2022. This is mainly due to a drastic reduction in emissions in the same region. One factor is the end of hard coal production, but that’s not all: mine gas is extracted and used, and less gas escapes from landfills. According to Uba, what is crucial here is expanding the circular economy, for example by sorting waste and using biogas.

Ambrose Fernandez

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