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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

EU lawmakers push to water down methane emissions guidelines

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Good morning. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is in Kyiv at present to fulfill president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as Ukraine joins the bloc in celebrating Europe Day.

Today, our correspondents masking the European parliament preview a vital vote on methane emissions in Strasbourg. And our Milan correspondent explains why Italy thinks its meals sector is underneath assault.

Leaking away

Methane is among the most pernicious greenhouse gases, however regulating its emissions has as soon as once more opened up heated debate in regards to the practicalities of recent local weather legal guidelines, write Alice Hancock and Ian Johnston.

Context: Brussels has proposed guidelines to curb methane emissions within the vitality sector. They would pressure fossil gasoline producers to watch and forestall leaks, akin to from mines, so as to align the EU with a world pledge to chop methane air pollution by 30 per cent by 2030 and combat world warming.

The European parliament will vote on the legislation at present, however a sequence of last-minute amendments by the Romanian centre-right MEP Cristian-Silviu Buşoi has raised considerations that the parliament will dilute the provisions to offer corporations a neater journey.

In an e mail to fellow lawmakers seen by the Financial Times, Buşoi mentioned that the amendments have been “a result of extensive consideration of the circumstances faced by the operators and the member states”.

His proposals would permit exemptions for methane emissions into water and scale back the variety of surveys to detect leaks. It would additionally introduce what Buşoi known as “a feasible timeframe” for international locations which have a number of disused wells, which may proceed to emit methane for a few years after they cease getting used.

The transfer is a part of a broadening development amongst politicians to indicate extra flexibility in the direction of trade because the implications of the local weather transition start to chew.

According to knowledge by the NGO Clean Air Task Force revealed yesterday, there have been greater than 880 sources of methane leakage throughout 15 international locations within the EU “with Romania illustrating a significant problem”.

In an open letter to MEPs, representatives of 9 NGOs mentioned that Buşoi’s amendments would “severely undermine” the methane regulation and exempt a “significant number of large companies”. Methane is 80 occasions stronger as a greenhouse fuel than carbon dioxide, the NGOs warned.

The European People’s celebration, the EU’s largest parliamentary group, has instructed its MEPs to vote in favour of not less than a number of the controversial amendments. That contains extra relaxed surveillance of methane leaks and looser necessities for fossil gasoline imports to the bloc.

This means some provisions to water down the principles may go. Certainly, the vote can be a lot tighter than anticipated, with some final minute scrambling because the EU parliamentary whips tally up their numbers.

Chart du jour: Burnt out

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Weighed down by Covid-19 and demographic change, the European well being sector is confronted with power employee shortages. The stress is mounting as hospitals cope with a giant therapy backlog after the pandemic.

Food combat

Italy is intensifying its campaign towards EU sustainable farming guidelines and lab-grown meals in an effort to advertise its signature delicacies, writes Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli.

Context: Italy’s rightwing authorities is waging a battle to guard its meals sector. Rome has hit out on the EU fee for not opposing plans in Ireland to place well being warnings on alcoholic drinks, together with Italian wine. And premier Giorgia Meloni has proposed banning lab-grown meat.

Italy’s agriculture and meals sovereignty minister, Francesco Lollobrigida, yesterday attended a convention in Milan titled “Italian food under attack” in a present of help to agricultural commerce physique Coldiretti.

Coldiretti has warned that the Italian meals trade is underneath critical risk from “health terrorism and climate extremism”.

The highly effective farmers’ organisation has been a vocal opponent of sure EU legislative proposals aimed toward reducing carbon emissions and making farming extra sustainable. It says they are going to finally hurt their trade and “Italian food excellence”.

Lollobrigida tweeted after the convention: “Mammoth meatballs, lab grown food, 3D-printed fish, milk without cows. This will make large multinationals profit and destroy our civilisation.”

The minister, a senior member of the ruling Brothers of Italy celebration, mentioned cultivated meat merchandise have been “slush” in an interview with Reuters.

He additionally pushed again towards the concept that slaughter-free meat manufacturing primarily based on lab-grown cells was extra sustainable. “We reject the idea of standardising products . . . our culture is tied to the land,” he mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Italian meals sector doesn’t appear to be struggling a lot: Italy’s meals exports rose by 15 per cent in 2022 to €60.7bn, largely pushed by wine, pasta, fruit and greens.

What to look at at present

  1. German chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at European parliament.

  2. EU fee president Ursula von der Leyen travels to Kyiv for Europe Day.

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