Gas has been used for cooking for a long time. It is used to heat homes and businesses, and it is increasingly being used to produce electricity.
Natural gas is a major source of energy in the United States. 34% of total energy consumptionIn 2020, it was the main source for electricity generation.
The truth is that gas is being promoted as a booming, three-letter climate hero as the world works to eliminate coal-fired energy.
But is it really?
It is not, as the European Commission (EC) implied last week when it proposed classifying gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly, a clean fuel.
Gas is true, it’s everywhere. Emissions 50% lower than coal when producing electricity, but it has also proven to be the Fastest growingSource of planet-heating CO2 emission over the past decade, a trend that’s expected to continue.
Yeah, oh. But that’s not all.
We are being told more often that gas is necessary to “transition to a cleaner energy future”. The theory goes that because it is still cleaner than its fossil friends, gas can help make up the energy shortfall caused by a looming coal power phase-out.
But the reality is that as a fossil fuel, natural gas causes climate change explaining why the European Green Party says it might take the EC to court over its push to classify some investments in gas as sustainable.
In short, gas is already being Description as the “new coal.”
It is possible?
Natural gas is a combustible hydrocarbon mostly made up of methane which is around 28 times more polluting than CO2 and is prone to leak from gas pipelines and infrastructure.
It’s a fossil fuel that is non-renewable and can be found deep under the ground in shale and rocks, and sometimes close to petroleum. It is used to make energy, but also as a chemical feedstock in plastics and fertilizers. Natural gas reserves could run out in 50 years due to our current unbridled appetite for it.
It is not long-term thinking to use gas as a “bridging” fuel for a clean energy future. One day, not too far down the line, it will run out. It’s supposed to provide energy security while we wait.
Is gas really so secure?
Gas is hard to source, which is why Europe still rely heavily on Russia for fossil fuel.
The infrastructure required to transport natural gas long distances adds to its carbon footprint and costs.
Geopolitics is another problem. Take a look at the delays in connecting the Nord Stream 2 Russia and Germany gas pipeline amid the escalating war threats in Ukraine. It’s ready but it won’t flow. Gas prices skyrocket as supply ebbs.
Germany itself is so reliant on gas for fuel and heating that it is open to supplies from the US, and has been planning to build big expensive new terminals to receive shipments in liquified natural gas (LNG) form.
The problem is that these imports would include fracked gas, which is extracted from rock and shale using poisonous chemicals in an environmentally-hazardous process.
Fracking, as is well-known, also releases a lot methane. It could be a potential hazard. bigger climate enemyIt is cheaper than coal
Many European countries, including Germany have banned the practice at home, but fracked US LNG might one day replace Putin’s gas.
Can’t we just let gas go if it’s so bad?
The EU believes that we will be able to repurpose existing gas infrastructures for “low carbon” gases like hydrogen and biogas down the road. This was the gist a recent European Commission (EC). Proposal to decarbonize gas markets.
Although it might sound good in theory, it would involve burning a lot hydrocarbons in the near term. Also, clean gases like “green hydrogen” remain a pipedream due to the fact they can only be made using renewables that are required to power energy transition.
That is why Critics disagree talk of the green gas transition is giving fossil fuel companies a pass to greenwash their climate-wrecking business.
“Natural gasoline is not a bridging gas. It is a fossil fuel.” One climate analystIt must be treated as coal and phased out as soon as possible, he added.
What’s the alternative to this?
Experts We are grateful for your feedback last year that solar energy was now the “cheapest … electricity in history,” and that by 2050, solar and wind could meet the world’s energy demand 100 times more.
We have other options. Yet Australia is talking up a “gas-fired recovery” from the pandemic, and Europe is pushing hard to build its “gas bridge” to our bright and clean energy tomorrow.
Some say all this gas boosterism is a recipe for a “carbon lock-in” that will only delay the energy transition.
Because all the capital and infrastructure that will go into a gas-fired energy transition means the fossil fuel will continue to be extracted to make good the investment.
Meanwhile, that same cash could have gone directly into the renewables that would directly decarbonize the energy supply.
And it would be energy we can still cook with.
Edited by Tamsin Walker