Climate Change Legislation Update: Latest Additions to the EU’s Fit for 55 Package

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The European Commission, on 15 December 2021, has published the second part of its ‘Fit for 55’ package. The update adds to the previous legislative proposals and efforts issued by the Commission in July 2021. The Fit for 55 legislative package is created to support the EU’s commitment to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

December additions to the Fit for 55 Package

The new proposals focus on three main topics: (1) Gas & hydrogen, (2) Methane, and (3) Buildings & real estate.

  1. Gas & hydrogen

New legislative proposals were adopted by the Commission with the intention of decarbonising the EU gas market. The hydrogen and decarbonised gas markets package comprises revisions of the Regulation on the internal markets for renewable and natural gases and for hydrogen, and a revision of the Directive on common rules for the internal markets in renewable and natural gases and in hydrogen. 

Jointly, the proposals create a framework for a cost-effective shift from fossil natural gas to renewable and low-carbon gases, by using the existing gas infrastructure. The Commission also aims to promote consumer engagement by enabling them to make more sustainable energy choices. This is mainly facilitated by providing consumers with sufficient information regarding their energy consumption. Lastly, the decarbonised gas markets package improves energy security and supply by extending the scope of the security of gas supply regulation to include renewable and low-carbon gases, as well as the inclusion of new risks such as cyber threats.

  1. Methane

Following up on the EU Methane Strategy, the Commission also issued a proposal to reduce methane emissions in the energy sector within Europe, and along its supply chains.

The Regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/942 introduces stringent rules in order to reduce methane emissions from gas, oil, and coal by 80% by 2030. Most importantly, a framework is established which requires the measurement, reporting, and verification of methane emissions, and sets rules to detect and repair methane leaks.

The proposal also bans venting and flaring practices. Venting is the release of small amounts of natural gas into the atmosphere, whereas flaring is the controlled combustion of the gas. Either way, methane is released into the atmosphere.

Lastly, the Commission will require importers of fossil fuels in the EU to submit data regarding their suppliers’ emissions and how these are mitigated. The Commission, in turn, will set up two transparency tools: (1) a transparency database where reported data will be made available to the public, and (2) a global monitoring tool to demonstrate methane emitting hot spots within and outside the EU.

  1. Buildings & real estate

 The last topic important for the December update of the Fit for 55 package is the decarbonisation of buildings. By 2030, all new buildings must be zero-emission, as proposed by the Commission.

Through the Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings, the Commission aims to increase the renovation of existing buildings through modernisation and decarbonisation. Ultimately, the worst-performing 15% of the EU building stock must be updated from Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) label G to label F by 2030.

Similar to the methane proposals, the buildings & real estate proposal also aims to provide consumers with more transparent details to make decisions. Member States will be obligated to present on national building renovation action plans on a regular basis.

The Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings furthermore encourages the use of (smart) technologies to efficiently operate buildings and supports the implementation of charging infrastructure to facilitate electric vehicles.