An oil lobbyist group might not be the first place you’d go to for sensible climate policy advocacy, but that’s exactly what’s coming out of the American Petroleum Institute (API), which recently touted America’s transition away from coal towards cleaner-burning natural gas as an important, cost-effective green transition. The FT reports:
The US should be a “model” for countries seeking to tackle climate change because of the way it has reduced carbon dioxide emissions through increased use of natural gas, the American Petroleum Institute has said. […]
US energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, dropped 10 per cent from 2007 to 2013. […]
Research presented by the API showed that in the 25 US states with the highest rate of carbon dioxide emissions from their power generation, switching completely out of coal-fired generation and into gas would more than meet their targets for reductions set under the Clean Power Plan.
This is something we’ve known for a long time, and even for green zealots it should be easy to grasp. Coal emits twice as much carbon as, and much more localized pollutants than, natural gas when burned, so to the extent that gas displaces coal for power generation, it’s an eco-friendly process. Thanks to fracking, the U.S. is currently flooded with natural gas, and prices are therefore extraordinarily cheap. The shale boom, then, has given a price incentive to an environmentally-friendly energy shift, something the green movement, for all of its moaning and fear mongering, has failed to produce.
The U.S. has made more progress in diversifying away from coal than any other G-7 nation, according to a recent report, and that achievement hasn’t come thanks to wind or solar, but because of shale gas. The rest of the world has had trouble developing shale in the way America has, but there’s clearly an ecological imperative to frack, just as there is an economical and strategic one.