Is LNG clean energy

Natural gas is not the future

For a long time, natural gas was considered to be the most climate-friendly fossil fuel, because when it is burned, only about half as much CO2 is released as coal. However, it is not really climate-friendly, because natural gas consists of methane and that is a much worse climate killer than CO2. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in the first 20 years after its release, it causes around 87 times more negative climate effects in the atmosphere than CO2. In relation to a period of 100 years, the climate effect would still be 36 times stronger than that of CO2.

"If you include the methane emissions released during production and transport in the calculation, especially the massive emissions from fracking, then you quickly come to orders of magnitude where natural gas is no longer better than coal," explains climate researcher Niklas Höhne from the NewClimate Institute in Cologne the DW. "If all emissions are taken into account, then natural gas can actually be worse than coal."

The studies on methane emissions from natural gas production and transport are also known to the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU). "We assume that natural gas obtained by fracking and imported by means of LNG (natural gas liquefied by cooling) generally does not bring about any greenhouse gas reduction compared to coal," the BMU said in a statement to DW. According to a study, the BMU sees natural gas from pipelines as having a climate advantage over the period of 100 years compared to coal.

More: US gas could be as harmful to the climate as coal

US natural gas extraction with fracking: The unwanted release of methane makes natural gas very harmful to the climate

Does the world need more natural gas?

Europe is experiencing a battle over the natural gas business. Russia wants to increase its sales of natural gas in the EU with another Baltic Sea pipeline, Nord Stream 2, and Donald Trump wants to market natural gas (LNG), liquefied by cooling, by ship in the EU. According to experts, the consumption of natural gas in the EU will no longer increase significantly and should decrease to zero in the next three decades anyway.

"We assume that the demand for natural gas will at least stagnate due to renewable energies and climate protection policy, but will in all probability decrease," says energy expert Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) of DW. In a study, the DIW describes the planned Baltic Sea pipeline as superfluous. "In view of the 1.5 degree target and the associated goal of largely greenhouse gas neutrality by the middle of the century, the demand for fossil gas will decline in the medium term," a BMU spokesman also emphasized to DW.

According to a study by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney, global natural gas consumption would have to decrease slightly by 2025 (- 0.2 percent per year) and to achieve the 1.5 degree target in order to achieve the Paris climate target from 2025 significantly by four percent per year.

If, on the other hand, global natural gas consumption were to continue to rise in the next two decades, by two percent a year, according to the ISF reference scenario, with oil and coal consumption also increasing, global warming would rise to up to five degrees in 2100 compared to pre-industrial times.

More on the subject: UN report as a fire alarm: Climate change can still be limited

Climate-damaging sales war

According to DIW, the planned Nordstream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline will also be unprofitable. "We are in the middle of a fossil war," said Kemfert. "This is about maintaining a supremacy with fossil energies and there is a misunderstanding that we will have fossil energies for a long time to come."

This "gas sales war" between the USA and Russia is "extremely dangerous" for climate protection, says the Bundestag member Lorenz Gösta Beutin from the Left. A flooding of Germany and Europe with natural gas will ensure low prices and this slows down energetic building renovations and the conversion to heating technology with renewable energies. For the Green Member of the Bundestag Julia Verlinden, the expansion of the natural gas infrastructure is a “complete bad investment Age is lengthening and it is getting harder for renewable energies. "

Climate researcher Niklas Höhne sees it similarly: It would be better for the climate and for investors if the money now flows "into sustainable technologies such as renewable energies and storage options" right from the start. "It's also never good for the economy if you make investments that don't pay off afterwards."

The worsened prospects for natural gas are also due to the cost advantage of renewable energies: electricity generation from new wind and solar systems is now often cheaper than with gas and the costs for energy generation with wind and sun will continue to fall in the coming years, according to forecasts. If the macroeconomic climate and environmental costs are also included, gas power also falls far behind in the cost comparison.

Natural gas industry sees the future with climate-neutral gas

Timm Kehler, Managing Director of the umbrella association Zukunft Erdgas, knows the challenges in the context of the Paris climate goals and the warnings from environmental associations against the expansion of the gas infrastructure. He sees a future for his industry in trading in climate-neutral gases such as hydrogen and synthetically produced methane (power-to-gas). These can be produced with the help of wind and solar power, can be marketed worldwide like natural gas and are an important addition to the climate-neutral energy system: "We want to stay in the market with new ideas and innovations," emphasized Kehler to DW and this in the future with CO2-free energy sources ".

Climate researchers would welcome the development. "We have to get out of coal, oil and gas completely by the middle of the century," says Höhne from the NewClimate Institute in Cologne. "In this respect, natural gas can only play a very small role on the way to a climate-friendly world."

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    1. Get out of coal, oil and gas

    Most greenhouse gases come from power plants, industry and traffic. Heating buildings causes a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those who use energy efficiently and replace coal, oil and gas with renewable energies protect the climate.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    2. Generate clean electricity yourself

    Electricity no longer has to come from coal, oil and gas power plants. There are alternatives - and they are now usually much cheaper. You can easily produce electricity yourself and more than you need yourself. There is plenty of space on the roofs for solar modules, and the technology is well established.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    3. Support good ideas

    More and more municipalities, companies and cooperatives are investing in renewable energies and selling clean electricity. Saerbeck owns this solar park. The German community with 7200 inhabitants produces more electricity than it needs and is a role model for future-oriented decentralized energy supply. A delegation from the USA is visiting here and is finding out how to do it.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    4. No money for climate-damaging companies

    More and more citizens, pension funds, insurance companies, universities and cities are pulling their money from fossil fuel companies. Münster is the first city in Germany to join the so-called divestment movement. Over 180 cities and universities around the world have now committed to this. The global movement is very dynamic, also because everyone can participate.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    5. Change to bike, bus and train

    Bicycles, buses and trains save a lot of CO2. Compared to a car, a bus is five times more climate-friendly and an electrically powered train with green electricity is even more than 20 times. Most of the citizens of Amsterdam cycle. The city promotes this traffic with wide cycle paths and cycle lanes and is a role model for other cities.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    6. Don't fly

    Flying is extremely harmful to the climate. The facts show the dilemma: In order to meet the climate target, each inhabitant of the world should only cause around one ton of CO2 per year on average. A return flight between Berlin and New York causes a climate impact of 6.5 tons of CO2 per person. You should therefore no longer fly on vacation.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    7. Eat less meat

    Agriculture is also a problem for the climate. The very climate-damaging gas methane is produced when rice is grown and in the stomachs of cattle, sheep and goats. Livestock farming and growing meat consumption around the world are critical, also because of the increasing need for soy for animal feed. Rainforests are cut down or set on fire for soy cultivation.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    8. Buy organic food

    Nitrous oxide is particularly harmful to the climate. Its share in the global greenhouse effect is six percent. It arises in power plants and engines, but above all through the use of artificial fertilizers in agriculture. This is forbidden in organic cultivation and therefore less nitrous oxide is released. That helps climate protection.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    9. Build and consume sustainably

    A lot of CO2 is produced in the production of steel and cement, whereas in the growth of wood and bamboo, CO2 is bound. The conscious choice of building materials helps the climate. The same goes for consumption. You don't need fossil energy for a massage or hairstyle, something for a plastic cup and a lot for a new car.

  • What can you do to protect the climate?

    10. Take responsibility

    How can you avoid greenhouse gases so that children and grandchildren do not experience the catastrophic consequences of global warming? These students are fascinated by clean energy and see it as an opportunity for their future. Everyone can help to make this happen.

    Author: Gero Rueter