Natural gas no miracle cure for climate change: Study

Fracking technology has driven a boom in natural gas that many hope will prompt a switch away from coal use and put the brakes on the rise in Earth-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Natural gas no miracle cure for climate change: Study

Paris: Fracking technology has driven a boom in natural gas that many hope will prompt a switch away from coal use and put the brakes on the rise in Earth-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

But a study Wednesday said market forces will undo many of the potential benefits from this burgeoning energy source.

Ever-cheaper prices will prompt higher energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and discourage investment in lower-emitting alternatives like nuclear, wind and solar, it said.

"The upshot is that abundant natural gas alone will not rescue us from climate change," said Haewon McJeon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a US government energy research body.

Advances in hydraulic fracturing -- pumping liquids into stone to break it up and release the gas within -- and horizontal drilling, have unlocked plentiful natural gas supplies, mainly in the United States to date.

"Global deployment of advanced natural gas production technology could double or triple the global natural gas production by 2050," said McJeon.

This could lead to CO2 emissions up to 10 percent higher by the middle of the century, instead of lowering them.

"The additional gas supply boosts its deployment, but the substitution of coal is rather limited and it might also substitute low-emission renewables and nuclear," co-author Nico Bauer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany said in a statement.

"The high hopes that natural gas will help reduce global warming because of technical superiority to coal turn out to be misguided because market effects are dominating.

"The main factor here is that an abundance of natural gas leads to a price drop and expansion of total primary energy supply."

Increased gas production also led to higher emissions of another potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, methane, due to leakages from drilling and pipelines.

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