Gas is not clean, and not a bridge fuel. More gas infrastructure will lock us into more gas use.
Natural gas is not clean, and not a bridge fuel
To start with: gas is a fossil fuel. Gas extraction methods and its release into the atmosphere have a myriad of consequences on local communities’ livelihoods and the global climate.
Oil & gas companies want to tell you the story that gas is a transition fuel, the cleanest of the fossil fuels that we can use to back up renewables whilst we make the transition to 100% clean energy.
However, as you could have guessed, they don’t tell the full story.
Over the last couple of decades, the impacts of fossil fuels on our climate have become clearer and clearer. Ignoring or denying has become almost impossible. Therefore, Big Fossil has invented a new strategy to continue business as usual: sell gas (or as they call it: “natural gas”) as a “bridge fuel”: the so-called “cleanest” fossil fuel that will support us to make the transition to 100% renewables.
Because, when gas is burnt, it emits less CO2 than, say, coal or oil. However, when looking at the impacts of gas (and more specifically methane, its main component) throughout its entire supply chain (from extraction to consumption) it might not be as clean as portrayed. Recent scientific research has shown that over a period of 10 to 20 years after its emission into the atmosphere, methane has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 86 to 105 the CO2’s. This is one of the reasons why gas stinks.
New gas infrastructure is locking us into gas use
Current infrastructure in the EU (both LNG terminals and pipelines) is being used at only a fraction of its capacity. Besides, as the case of the Castor project in Catalunya (a gas storage facility put in hibernation right after construction) has shown, the risk exists of these gas infrastructures becoming stranded assets, with the public sector and the tax payer ending up paying for it.
After construction of an LNG terminal or pipeline, we would be locked in for another couple of decades of this fossil fuel. Meaning: more environmental damage and risks, human health and safety risks, earthquakes in extraction areas, conflicts and repression, European support to corrupt and undemocratic regimes, etc. to build infrastructures that transports a fossil fuel which – if we don’t cut methane emissions now – will prevent us from staying below the internationally established goal of 1,5 to 2°C, and thus break scientifically established thresholds that we mustn’t pass if we want to prevent runaway climate change.
We believe this is a very, very, very bad idea.