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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Can Climate Activists Embrace Shale Gas as a Bridge Fuel?

Activists have been resistant to the idea of
natural gas as a bridge fuel
From Forbes:
President Obama, Ban Ki-moon and 300,000 others showed up in New York City this week to support the use of modern technologies and cleaner fuels. But at least four notable heads-of-state stayed home, each of whom is just as important in the battle against global warming. Missing: China, India, Russia and Canada. 
While it may seem hard to reconcile that some of the globe’s biggest polluters skipped the event — they still sent delegations as a show of respect — it is not necessarily a blow to the cause. That’s because of unconventional shale gas — and the wealth of those supplies all around the world. The paradox is whether climate activists can possibly embrace natural gas a bridge fuel until greener energies would win greater market acceptance. Possible? 
“We should have increasingly stringent regulations on coal to help us move away from it,” says Michael Shellenberger, president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental think tank. “Cheap natural gas helps a lot. But we need to ramp up our investments in renewables and nuclear energy so that they can compete with coal and natural gas.” 
The Breakthrough Institute is part of the push tocrack the climate change code by first ditching coal-fired power and using mostly natural gas and nuclear energy. It’s a far more pragmatic approach to lessening all the pollutants that are regulated under the Clean Air Act — ones that don’t just include carbon dioxide but also sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. That position on natural gas is, generally, supported by the Worldwatch Institute
While the United States has the technology to develop such shale gas reserves, the rest of the world has yet to catch up. If ever they do, both China and India have a plethora of unconventional fuel under their feet, as does Canada. And if those resources could eventually be produced, the fuel would supplant coal usage, especially in the world’s emerging economies. Consider that China is globe’s biggest carbon emitter, followed by the United States and India.
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