If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. Natural gas is a bridge fuel to the clean energy future. Not so, says Germany’s Energy Watch Group. “Due to alarming methane emissions, the switch from coal-fired power generation and oil heating to natural gas increases the greenhouse effect of the energy supply by around 40%. As a result, natural gas does not make any contribution to climate protection, contrary to what is widely conveyed to the public, but instead causes an additional acceleration of climate change.”
The study by Energy Watch Group calculates the climate impact of switching to natural gas based on the latest research on methane and carbon dioxide emissions throughout the supply chain over the next 20 years when the potential for climate tipping points is greatest. It concludes that any carbon dioxide savings from switching to natural gas are far outweighed by the high methane emissions associated with natural gas production and transportation.
“The study confirms that the promotion of highly damaging natural gas further aggravates climate change,” said Hans-Josef Fell, a former member of the German Bundestag and president of the Energy Watch Group. Fell, a co-author of the study, calls for a rethink of the future of the energy sector.
The authors of the study write, “An immediate abolition of all subsidies for fossil fuels” is necessary along with a nationwide introduction of emission-free, renewable technologies. “Since a global transition of the energy system to 100% renewable energy would save 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, this measure must be at the center of all climate protection efforts. This study shows impressively that fossil fuels should not play a role in a responsible policy, not even the misleadingly called climate-friendly bridge technology.”
The “bridge fuel” argument is one that is promoted aggressively by natural gas advocates. It’s a dangerous lie, as the Energy Watch Group report makes abundantly clear. “Keep it in the ground” applies as much to natural gas as it does to coal and oil.