Methane, the greenhouse gas 86 times worse than CO2, finally targeted by MEPs

Methane is 86 times worse for global warming than carbon dioxide. Yet the greenhouse gas does not specifically fall under the scope of any EU protections on climate.

Two MEPs from the European Parliament’s Green group want to change that. French MEP Michèle Rivasi and MEP Claude Turmes from Luxembourg called for a specific strategy on methane to be incorporated into new plans on how to ensure European countries meet EU energy and climate targets.

And their report was adopted today in a joint committee meeting between the European Parliament’s Environment and Industry committees with 66 votes in favour and 48 votes against.

With around half of all methane emissions coming from the farming sector, NGOs campaigning for sustainable farming welcomed the result of the vote.

EEB Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, Faustine Bas-Defossez, said:

Excessive methane emissions, which are toxic for our environment, climate, and human health, are the by-product of a farming model that has left farmers reliant on exporting intensively-produced cheap meat outside Europe. To truly tackle methane’s devastating impact on global warming and its indirect impact on air quality we need EU protections and policy measures that adequately tackle the greenhouse gas and support the transition to a sustainable farming system that gives farmers fair prices for their produce.”

Bas-Defossez added:

Let’s not forget that farming is one of the sectors that bears the biggest brunt of climate change, so ensuring the EU adopts a sound strategy on a potent greenhouse gas like methane is a win-win for the climate, the farm sector’s long-term ability to farm, and for people’s health.”

Methane is also produced when natural gas is extracted and burned and recent research from the Tyndall Climate Research Centre revealed that recent empirical studies of fossil fuel producing areas have found that governments are underestimating when reporting on official methane emissions levels, and that the actual levels are dangerously high.

Methane is also responsible for ozone formation, which has serious implications for human health. A year and a half ago the European Parliament and EU governments signed off on keeping methane out of an EU law that sets caps on how much of different air pollutants can be emitted.