Bridge or Wall? Natural Gas in the Current Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy
Natural gas as a power plant fuel has already played an important role in a transition to a low-carbon economy. However, while a transition to gas-fueled electricity is a carbon reduction strategy for a coal-reliant power system, putting too much investment today into this single strategy risks a long-term lock-in of CO2/methane pollution levels that will allow global temperature to rise above the upper 2°C limit agreed to in the recent Paris Agreement. This article, published in Natural Gas & Electricity, examines gas’s role as a “bridge fuel” in the wider context of efforts to reduce emissions between now and 2030. It notes successes of carbon reduction initiatives built on a portfolio of programs and their relationship to natural gas switching in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states in particular. It cautions on overinvestments in pipeline and other infrastructure and examines some of the risks surrounding gas as a fuel and gas plants’ flexibility. And it advises regulatory policies that get gas investments right in both the short and long term.