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Natural Gas: Cleaner but not clean

Published: 5th Apr, 2024

Context

Amidst global energy politics, the narrative of natural gas being 'cleaner' in comparison to coal requires closer scrutiny, especially considering the continuing overuse of oil and gas by developed countries despite their share of the carbon budget.

1: Dimension- The Race for adoption of natural gas

  • In race towards energy transition, natural gas has emerged as a key player, often touted as a 'bridge fuel' for nations aiming to reduce reliance on coal and oil.
  • Advocates highlight its cleaner profile compared to other fossil fuels, emitting 50% less CO2 during combustion, positioning it as a crucial element in the pathway towards renewable energy and electrification.
  • Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has underscored the urgency of phasing out coal over reducing gas usage for the 1.5°C pathway, particularly impacting coal-dependent Global South countries.

2: Dimension- Significance of Natural Gas for India

  • Economic benefits: India is largely dependent on import of fossil to meet energy needs. Adoption of natural gas will reduce import costs and thus foreign exchange. It will create new employment opportunities to harness demographic dividend.
  • Environmental benefits: It will help in achieving target of increasing non fossil fuel energy consumption to 40% by 2030.
  • Social benefits: It will tackle health challenges due to rise in pollution by fossil fuels. AS per WHO, estimates that globally about seven million people die prematurely each year from diseases linked to air pollution

3: Dimension-The other side of natural gas

  • Natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide (C02) when burned than coal, but that doesn't make it harmless.
  • Rising production of natural gas is emerging as one of the biggest drivers of climate change.
  • Methane releases from the natural gas supply chain are a key factor in equalising overall GHG emissions between gas and coal, creating emissions parity. 

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