Scientists Highlight Natural Gas Risks & Dispute Climate Benefits

Natural gas flare, North Dakota

Natural gas flare, North Dakota. Credit: Creative Commons/ Tim Evanson

Natural gas, does it really offer hope in the fight against climate change? A trio of foreign think tank feels that natural gas could be offering false hope in the context of climate change. There are many countries like New Zealand who have pushed the search for natural gas stating that it is cleaner than coal, which is also used as a premise in the battle for global warming.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT) produced by three European research organisations, Climate Analytics, NewClimate Institute, and Ecofys have recently released a report titled, ‘Foot of the gas: increased reliance on natural gas in the power sector risks an emissions lock-in.’ CAT warns that natural gas would have to be phased out along with coal so as to limit warming to 1.5˚C as mentioned in the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal.

The emissions lock-in is attributed to the push to replace coal with gas and leading to over-investment in gas infrastructure. The greater use of gas was further encouraged to make the most of the initial expenditure.

The report has quoted studies illustrating the production of 25% of world’s greenhouse gas emissions by the electricity sector. This is said to have a great impact on the meeting of the Paris Climate Agreement goals. It is reported that to meet the Paris’ goal of limiting to 1.5°C the emissions from electricity generation would have to zero by 2050. The further goal of 2°C would have to be achieved by 2060.

It is pointed out that natural gas and coal would not be of use in this scenario. The report adds that the reduction in warming projected by 2100 by changing over from coal to gas is only 25%-45% of what would be obtained by switching to renewables.

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