Far from serving as a “bridging” fuel to a low-carbon economy, natural gas threatens the Paris climate agreement’s goal of holding global warming to below 2.0ºC above pre-industrial levels, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research concludes in a recent study.
The researchers, who examined 250 gas supply chains, found that their associated methane emissions leave “categorically no role” for the fuel within the EU’s 2.0ºC-compatible carbon budget, even as “a baseload alternative to wind and solar on cloudy and windless days”.
“Governments have drastically underestimated methane emissions from natural gas and will miss the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2.0ºC unless they urgently scale down its use,” the Guardian writes, citing the report.
Europe, the Tyndall authors assert, “must phase out all fossil fuels including gas by 2035 and decrease emissions by 12% per year—far beyond its current ambitions—to keep to the Paris 2.0ºC pledge.”
“Considering both carbon dioxide and methane emissions,” they underscore, “an urgent program to phase out existing natural gas and other fossil fuel use across the EU is an imperative of any scientifically informed and equity-based policies designed to deliver on the Paris agreement.”
The Tyndall Centre’s findings echo and reinforce a conclusion reached earlier this year by Climate Action Tracker, which found that “overinvestment in natural gas infrastructure is likely to lead to either emissions overshooting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C and 2.0°C goals—or a large number of stranded assets as the shift to cheaper renewables takes place.”
After Europe’s gas industry spent more than €100 million last year on more than 1,000 lobbyists to promote “gas as a relatively clean fossil fuel,” the Guardian notes, EU-zone officials approved 77 new gas infrastructure projects. More than 100 additional plants are in the approval pipeline.
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