Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Study Finds U.S. Has Greatly Underestimated Methane Emissions

Source: New York Times

Robert Howarth:

Using this new information as well as other independent studies on methane emissions published since 2011, and the latest information on the climate influence of methane compared to carbon dioxide from the latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September of this year, it is clear that natural gas is no bridge fuel. When used to generate electricity, natural gas likely has a greenhouse gas footprint similar to that for coal. However, when used for domestic heating of water, the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas is at least two-times larger than that of using modern electric-driven heat pumps.

Society should move as quickly as possible away from using natural gas for water heating and domestic and commercial space heating – uses which are equal to the use of gas to generate electricity in the US. This is the low-hanging fruit for reducing the total greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.

When you add up that there is more methane being emitted than E.P.A. has estimated, that methane is responsible for up to half of all the greenhouse gas emissions for the entire US, and that each unit of methane emitted is far more important in causing global climate change over the critical few decades ahead, it should be clear that bridge-fuel argument just doesn’t hold up. And the oil and gas industry is the major source of these methane emissions.

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