EU deal on methane must not give coal mining industry a free pass

(EurActiv, 14 Nov 2023) The EU must not succumb to Poland’s demands to dilute ambition on tackling methane emissions from coal mines, writes Dr Sabina Assan. She argues that Stricter rules will help address climate change and ensure the future competitiveness of Poland’s coking coal industry.

Dr Sabina Assan is methane analyst at Ember and lead author of a recent publication on the gaps around coal mines in the EU’s methane regulation. 

As COP28 approaches, the European Union, preparing for the final trialogue negotiations of its proposed Methane Regulation, must set a global example and address its largest single source of fossil fuel methane, coal mines. Otherwise, the Union will jeopardise its ambitions of a 58% reduction in fossil fuel methane emissions.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Methane gas is released before, during and even after coal is mined, as it is naturally embedded in coal and the surrounding strata. These gases pose security risks for miners and present climate concerns, with coal mine methane (CMM) emissions equaling annual CO2 emissions of 43 million cars. Even these figures may be underestimated, as the IEA calculated that EU coal mine methane emissions are 24% higher than officially reported.

Trilogue discussions involving the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament are expected to focus on an import standard. Nevertheless, domestic coal mine methane emissions risk being overlooked, failing to give this topic the scrutiny it deserves.

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EurActiv, 14 Nov 2023: EU deal on methane must not give coal mining industry a free pass