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We would be better off sticking to coal and oil than switching to gas

‘The world has no chance of beating climate change if natural gas is part of the mix’

A report by Germany’s Energy Watch Group thinktank has said we would be better off sticking to coal and oil than switching to gas because emissions of methane, the most potent greenhouse gas, caused by gas extraction render any related carbon savings irrelevant.  September 18, 2019, By: Max Hall

Sticking with coal and oil-fired power and heat would give the world a better chance of hitting climate change mitigation targets than switching to natural gas, thanks to the devastating greenhouse gas effect of methane leakage.

That is the headline finding of a hard-hitting report published by the Berlin-based Energy Watch Group thinktank published this week, which has taken a swipe at the International Energy Agency (IEA) for perpetrating the idea natural gas is a more climate friendly option than its rival fossil fuels.

Sources of CH4

The bulk of human-caused methane, about 56 percent, comes from livestock, rice cultivation, and waste. In livestock production, animals' manure and cow burps release methane into the atmosphere. Rice is grown in flooded fields, which - like natural wetlands - give off methane from microbial activity. Sep 5, 2019.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 19, 2019 2:18 pm GMT

Is the idea that hastily switching to natural gas would result in embedded infrastructure that would stick around for longer, committing us to more years of fossil generation, or are they actually saying that the absolute emissions of gas are worse than coal and oil? It's obviously true that methane is a more potent gas on a molecular level and that's why great care needs to taken with it, but on an emissions per energy generated basis gas is definitely less damaging than coal/oil. That said, there are certainly many market and operational bases on which we need to move away from gas as well (but not instead) of moving away from coal and oil

Walid Matar's picture
Walid Matar on Sep 23, 2019 6:07 am GMT

Did this think tank consider that a good chunk of gas production is associated with oil?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 23, 2019 1:19 pm GMT

Very true-- there's a reason it's known as the 'oil & gas industry,' as the same players and the same techniques are used in both. 

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