June 3, 2019

Two New Studies Show Natural Gas Use Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Two new studies add further strong evidence that natural gas lowers global greenhouse gas emissions.

First, a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study shows that as natural gas production in the United States increased 46 percent since 2006, there has been no significant increase of total U.S. methane emissions and only a modest increase from oil and gas activity. According to the study, published here, previous studies’ erroneous assumptions resulted in a major overestimation of methane emissions resulting from oil and gas operations.

A second study, this one by the International Energy Agency, reports that although global energy emissions increased 1.7 percent in 2018, without an increase in global natural gas consumption, “the increase in emissions would have been more than 15 percent greater.”That’s because fuel switching to natural gas for power generation accelerated in 2018, reducing the carbon intensity of global energy use. The transition to less carbon-intensive natural gas helped avert 95 million tons of CO2 emissions. This switch, most significant in China and the United States, reduced those countries’ emissions by 45 million tons and 40 million tons, respectively.

The report also showed that China remains, by far, the world’s greatest contributor to global CO2 emissions from power generation. China’s coal plants today emit 4,400 million tons of CO2 annually (and rising) compared to the United States’ 1,300 million tons (and falling).