Natural gas should not be ruled out in the clean-energy transition, says trade group

According to the American Gas Association, the United States will need its domestic natural gas sector and ready-made pipeline infrastructure to help the country achieve net-zero emissions, writes.

The association, which represents natural gas-powered utilities, released a fresh report on Tuesday that it claims proves the point. The research outlines numerous paths from the current quo to net-zero total emissions by 2050, as well as the role natural gas may play in getting there.

According to the report, gas utilities have been modernized to the point that methane emissions have decreased by 69 percent since 1990. Methane is a shorter-lived but more powerful pollution than carbon because it escapes both at the moment of collection and when gas is burnt. The United States has joined a worldwide initiative to reduce methane emissions.

The AGA research also drew on statistics indicating that since 1971, advancements in gas efficiency have lowered residential emissions per user by 47 percent. Natural gas, which is very cheap and is mostly derived from domestic fracking, has largely replaced higher-polluting coal in powering the nation’s electrical system.

However, most claims by the fossil-fuel business to join the battle against climate change are viewed with suspicion.

Environmental groups and some lawmakers are concerned that these producers, utilities, and the trade groups that support them will not move quickly enough to meet ambitious targets, such as the Paris climate agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and the Biden administration’s pledge to cut U.S. emissions in half by the end of this decade, on the way to net zero by 2050. Pledges to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 are also influencing business choices at big firms ranging from technology to retail to transportation.

A team of researchers supported by the United Nations discovered that the globe was on course to generate 70% more natural gas in 2030 than would be sustainable with the Paris objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Most of the increased gas output is augmenting, not replacing, coal.” “It’s meeting the need for new energy,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor who leads the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists who study greenhouse gas emissions.

AGA and others have also emphasized that natural gas will play an important role until solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources make up a higher percentage of electrical power. Even reforming home energy consumption by replacing natural gas-fired heating with electric heating, particularly heat pumps, might place undue strain on the system.