Climate benefits of a natural gas bridge ‘unlikely to be significant’
Natural gas can only be a worthwhile bridge to a low carbon future if a series of tough conditions are met, according to a working paper from the influential New Climate Economy initiative.
The paper says the climate benefits of gas, including shale gas, could in theory be significant. It suggests a 10% increase in global gas supplies could prevent 500 gigawatts (GW) of new coal capacity being added by 2035, avoiding 1.3 billion tonnes of annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
But it warns that any theoretical benefits could easily be wiped out without controls on methane leakage, limits on total energy use and targets to ensure low-carbon energy sources are not displaced.
The North American shale gas revolution has helped drive down emissions from US electricity supplies. The US shift from coal- to gas-fired power stations has been driven, though perhaps only in part, by market forces because fracking has made US gas cheaper.