Natural gas is mostly promoted as part of the solution to climate change by the gas industry. Although it is non-renewable, it is a plentiful energy source. However, according to some experts, its contribution to global warming is only slightly less than that of coal and oil.
The main component of natural gas is methane which is a fossil fuel just like crude and coal. When methane is burned, it produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These are called greenhouse gases because they trap the heat of the sun’s rays in the atmosphere, warming the earth’s surface. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Although some experts claim that natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, but it is not in the same league as renewable energy sources.
According to Roberto Brandt, chair of the coordinating committee of the International Gas Union (IGU) which has a membership of 750 experts from industry associations in over 100 countries, natural gas could play a key role in the mitigation of climate change, .
Brandt said that natural gas is an abundant and growing resource that is 25-30 percent less polluting than oil and its by-products, and 45-50 percent cleaner than coal and its derivatives.
it is also thought that in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, natural gas is a lesser evil than the heavier solid and liquid fossil fuels. However, it’s nowhere near as clean as renewable energy sources, like wind, solar energy and biomass.
Areas where more environment friendly procedures are used should avoid use of natural gas as an alternative source. For example, Brazil has hydroelectric plants that provide close to 80 percent of the country’s energy, and so, replacing them with natural gas fired plants would be a step backward.
On the other hand, places such as China or the United States get most of their electricity from coal fired thermal plants, where a shift to natural gas would contribute to mitigation.
In case the contribution of natural gas in energy production rises,it will be better to some extent, but it is not wise to promote it as if it were a completely clean energy source.