Gas Is Not a Bridge Fuel: Why Ireland’s Climate Goals Cannot Be Met with More Gas
Oil Change International
The world is not yet on course for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, to keep average warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Ireland is also off track – the country is set to miss both its short-term targets in EU legislation, and its long-term target of reducing energy sector emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. Expanded gas extraction will make it more difficult to achieve these goals, and must be avoided.
This report focuses on fossil gas development and debunking the myth of fossil gas as a clean transition fuel. It outlines five reasons that gas cannot be a part of the energy transition:
- No Room for New Gas: Climate goals require the power sector to be decarbonized by mid-century. This means fossil gas use must be phased out, not increased. Even as other sectors may continue some reliance on gas, overall gas use must be reduced significantly.
- New Gas Is Holding Back Renewable Energy: Wind and solar are comparable in cost to gas, and all are significantly cheaper than coal, in many regions including Europe. This means new gas capacity competes with new wind and solar rather than coal.
- Gas Is Not Needed in the Clean Energy Transition: Claims that fossil gas supports renewable energy development do not stand up to scrutiny. The cheapest gas generation technology, Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT), is designed for base load operation, rather than peaking. While gas “peakers” can do the job, they face increasing competition from battery storage. Most grids are far from renewable energy penetration levels that would require back-up anyway. Renewable energy, storage, demand response and efficiency can and should all be prioritized ahead of more gas capacity.
- New Infrastructure Locks In Emissions: Multibillion-dollar fossil gas infrastructure built today will likely operate for decades to come. The barriers to shutting in existing infrastructure mean that it is critical to stop building infrastructure the full lifetime emissions of which cannot be absorbed into the carbon budget.
- Too Much Gas Already: The coal, oil, and fossil gas in the world’s currently producing and under-construction projects, if fully extracted and burned, would take the world far beyond safe climate limits. Opening new fossil gas fields is inconsistent with the Paris climate goals.