Question: Does the fact that natural gas may be abundant change the environmental position?

Question mark #2What about boring old natural gas?  I can’t find any mention of it anywhere on your site and I wonder how much you or your readers know about the recent revolution in unconventional “shale” gas, which has meant some geologists think that there is nine times more natural gas available on a planetary scale than thought as little as two or three years ago.

Since ideas such as clean coal and nuclear are predicated on natural gas being finite, as opposed to abundant, I’d just like to hear what your opinons are from an environmental viewpoint.

Nick Grealy, 20 September 2009

There is reference to natural gas in the comment of 14 September 2009 (see Is the ‘peak oil’ debate relevant?), which asks whether we should worry about oil and gas running out and points out that more is regularly discovered.  The ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak gas’ debates are irrelevant because we cannot afford to burn what we know about already.  Shale gas means that there’s more gas available, but doesn’t alter the climate issues. The support by some governments and businesses for CCS and nuclear is partly based on worry about gas running out, but also on where the gas is located, and partly on climate concern.  Climate Answers’ support for these bridge technologies until we can be 100% reliant on renewables is based entirely on climate concerns.

Gas is less damaging to the climate than coal without CCS.  But gas without CCS will be more damaging than coal with CCS.  The article on CCS (see Carbon capture and storage) says that it should be demonstrated on gas power stations as well as coal ones – as Total is doing in France. 

Stephen Tindale, 28 September 2009

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