Natural Gas – An Aid to the Forests and the Poor

UN / Guilherme Costa

The co-head of the UN sustainable energy programmed stated that natural gas along with non-traditional shale gas should feature a pivotal role in lowering green house emissions, preserving forests and raising the health and the living standards of the poor around the globe.

The goals of the U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative would be difficult to achieve without the aid of natural gas. This initiative by the UN aims to ensure universal energy access, doubling rate of improvement in energy efficiency as well as the world’s share of renewable energy by the year 2030.

Natural gas is vital for saving forests and virtually impossible without it. It is one of the answers to solve the problem of increasing deforestation and lower the number of deaths arising due to indoor pollution with the use of firewood.

Kandeh Yumkella, the head of the UN Industrial Development Organization is aware that his support for natural gas is viewed as controversial. However, the statistics show no other option. Providing electricity to 1.3 billion people by 2030 will require around $43 billion, which is an insurmountable figure.

Many members of the UN conference, known as Rio+20 saw the inclusion of natural gas in the initiative as an obstacle. Burning of natural gas releases carbon dioxide which is primarily responsible for global warming. Some members are of the opinion that Yumkella’s panel is dominated by people speaking for the big power industries. Yet others are of the opinion that natural gas may be a solution for the short term however it will  not resolve the issue in the long term.

There is much wariness after countries have failed to deliver the promises made in the 1992 Earth Summit and also in the Kyoto Climate Change Protocols.

Rich nations are worried that new energy policies might cripple them while poor nations are worried that they will prove insufficient to rise out of poverty. A global initiative is bound to fail if it does not take into account the people while addressing poverty. The inclusion of natural gas is seen as a move for privatisation instead of community owned energy systems.

Shale gas is a relevant option with the right research and development so that it is less polluting than other forms. Part of the intiative also aims for reducing the burned off or flamed gas for dearth of a reliable market or pipeline.

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