More inconvenient facts on emissions data

March 24th, 2016

Those familiar with anti-gas activist dogma  might be surprised to learn what was quietly announced by the International Energy Agency this week:  global carbon emissions held steady for the second year in a row.

In the US, a period of firm economic growth was accompanied by a reduction in emissions.

And the reason?  A switch to energy from natural gas, as the IEA acknowledged:

“In the United States, emissions declined by 2%, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.”

Yes, the IEA confirmed what activists refuse to acknowledge:  gas is the ideal transition fuel to a renewable energy future.

Natural gas has the potential to open up opportunity to reduce emissions without having to suffer dramatic price increases or reduced standards of living.

This is a trend which has been emerging for several years, as the shale gas revolution in the US has cemented its significant positive impact on both regional and national economies and the global environment.

What the trend points to is what the IEA calls the ‘decoupling’ of economic growth and emissions growth.


Australia is not able to participate in the same trend because its onshore gas reserves are being largely tied up by regulations preventing their development in the heavily-populated southern part of the country.

But there are two very positive aspects of the Australian natural gas role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Firstly, Australia is punching way above its weight in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to established and expanding economies in Asia.

LNG use in electricity generation and potentially in transport has the potential to do in Asia what has been occurring for the past few years in the US.  And it can do this today, without the current higher cost and technical challenges of alternatives including nuclear and renewable energy.

Secondly, there is very strong recent scientific reassurance that the often shrill rhetoric of anti-gas activists about methane and carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas production are just not right.

As we have reported, experts in the US, New Zealand and Australia have declared that ‘methane leaks’ and heavy carbon dioxide emissions are either wrong or greatly exaggerated.

The most recent Australian Government inventory of greenhouse gases confirmed that despite the increased drilling for gas in western Queensland, fugitive emissions decreased last year.

Interestingly, the same report noted that emissions from agriculture were more than twice as large as from fugitive emissions.

But don’t expect to see activists taking up that issue with the agriculture industry any time soon!

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