Climate change: A crack in the natural-gas bridge

Climate change: A crack in the natural-gas bridge / Steven J. Davis & Christine Shearer, Nature, online 15/10/2014, doi:10.1038/nature13927

Integrated assessment models show that, without new climate policies, abundant supplies of natural gas will have little impact on greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change. (© Nature)

About the paper :

A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Recent advances in gas production technology based on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — have led to bountiful, low-cost natural gas. Because gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, some researchers have linked the natural gas boom to recent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. But could these advanced technologies also have an impact on emissions beyond North America and decades into the future?
New analysis shows abundant gas would cut energy prices but squeeze out renewable energy, and would likely increase overall carbon emissions…
The unexpected energy revolution caused by the rapid growth in North American shale gas production has produced benefits related to the economy, jobs, energy security, and local air pollution, and has contributed to a decrease in US greenhouse gas emissions. However, as my colleagues and I report in a new study published online today by Nature Advance Online Publication (fee required), its overall impact on global greenhouse gas emissions appears to be surprisingly small. In fact, we find that even a very significant expansion in the availability of less-expensive natural gas (up to 300 percent) would have little effect on growing global greenhouse gas emissions…

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