Natural gas is often held up as an example of a “clean” fossil fuel that can serve as a “bridge fuel” to help smooth the transition to carbon-free power sources like solar and wind. This is a false and dangerous claim. There are two big problems with natural gas:
- While it is cleaner than coal or oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel that releases carbon dioxide while burned. Natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide that coal does. Unfortunately, we simply do not have room in our planetary carbon budget. We must transition directly to non-carbon emitting power sources like solar and wind.
- Natural gas is a mixture of many different gasses, but it is mostly methane. Methane is an extremely destructive greenhouse gas. As natural gas is extracted and transported through pipelines, methane can leak out into the atmosphere. Because methane is such a destructive greenhouse gas, it does not take much leakage to make natural gas just as bad as coal.
Building new natural gas wells, pipeline infrastructure, or power plants is simply incompatible with meeting CO2 reduction goals.