IEA: switching to natural gas reduces emissions

A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report has found that using less emissions-intensive fuels, such as natural gas, results in significant emissions reductions and air quality benefits. 

The IEA’s report The Role of Gas in Today’s Energy Transitions examined the role of switching from coal to natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants globally.

The report found that since 2010, coal-to-gas switching has saved around 500 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of putting an extra 200 million electric vehicles on the road running on zero-carbon electricity over the same period.

“There can be significant CO2 and air quality benefits, in specific countries, sectors and timeframes, from using less emissions-intensive fuels,” the IEA report said.

APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, said the report highlighted the vital contribution natural gas is playing in reducing global emissions, particularly in Asian nations where Australia’s LNG is exported.

“Australia’s LNG industry often does not receive credit for its important role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and helping import nations improve their air quality. 

The report also highlighted a significant opportunity in the global electricity generation sector to reduce emissions by switching from coal-fired power plants to gas-fired power plants, which presented “a potential quick win for emissions reductions”.

The report stated that there is potential in today’s power sector to reduce up to 1.2 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions by switching from coal to existing gas-fired plants, if relative prices and regulation support this potential.

To put this opportunity in perspective, the potential for emission reductions across the global economy of 1.2 gigatonnes is nearly double Australia’s total annual emissions.

Mr McConville said the latest findings showed the significant role Australia’s LNG industry is playing in helping reduce global emissions.

“The IEA analysis re-affirms that natural gas from Australia has a critical role to play in decarbonising the global economy.

“Australia’s LNG industry has invested over $350 billion over the past decade and is doing its bit in reducing global emissions.

“The oil and gas industry believes climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.”

According to recent Australian government estimates, Australian LNG exports are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 148 million tonnes in customer nations, equivalent to more than a quarter of Australia’s emissions.

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