Natural gas use is surging across the world and fossil fuel emissions are hitting records that are unsustainable for the planet. "Any growth is more than we can afford right now,” says Rob Jackson. “What we need is for emissions to stabilize and drop.”
Although natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, it’s still one of the biggest sources of climate pollution. Globally, planet-warming carbon emissions from natural gas are rising more quickly than emissions from coal are falling, according to research led by Rob Jackson.
"I don’t know of any other oil company that has pledged to be carbon-neutral, including the burning of their products,” says Rob Jackson about Spanish oil giant Repsol SA announcing their ambitious reduction efforts. “That is quite remarkable.”
"It's hard to view slower growth as good news. But nonetheless, compared to last year and 2017 the growth rate was down substantially. What we need is for emissions to decline, not to rise slowly," says Rob Jackson.
"The two places where renewables and natural gas are both displacing coal are here in the United States and in Europe," Rob Jackson says. But elsewhere around the world, "most of the new gas being burned isn't replacing coal – it's providing new energy for people."
“Even without knowing what the current level of greenhouse gas concentrations would be, the climate models predicted the evolution of global temperature quite well,” says Noah Diffenbaugh. “We have one planet Earth, so we can’t conduct controlled experiments on the actual climate system."
The air above Earth – especially above California – might have way more methane in it than anyone thought. And that could be good news. "Most of the emissions come from a small fraction of sources,” says Stanford Earth's Adam Brandt.
“This idea that you can just be off the grid, we are hearing that more and more,” Sally Benson says about backup power sources. Under some circumstances, the systems may do more environmental harm than good.
As governments in California increasingly consider limiting new residential natural gas connections, it is important to question whether banning natural gas is an “antidote to climate change,” writes Anthony Kovscek.