With US$1.6 trillion in upcoming investments in new fossil gas projects, G20 countries are contradicting their own commitments under the Paris Agreement and perpetuating the myth that gas is a “bridge fuel” to a post-carbon future, states a report  released yesterday by Oil Change International and endorsed by more than 20 organizations around the world.
“The idea that fossil gas could be a bridge to clean energy dates back to the time when cell phones were tethered to briefcase-size batteries,” said Oil Change Executive Director Steve Kretzmann. “Fossil gas today is just one more dirty energy source now completely bypassed by newer, cleaner, cheaper, and better technology. It’s time for the G20 to follow through on their commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies, and to begin to discuss how to limit production of all fossil fuels in line with the Paris Agreement’s goals.”
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“Emissions from existing gas fields, alongside existing oil and coal development, already exceed carbon budgets aligned with the Paris Agreement,” Oil Change notes in a release. “Even if all coal mines were shut down tomorrow, the gas and oil in already-developed fields alone would take the world beyond the carbon budget for a 50% chance at staying below 1.5ºC of global warming.”
If the G20’s planned investments in new gas projects come about,the release adds, “emissions unlocked through 2050 would make it extremely difficult to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, which has been signed by all G20 members.” It adds that five countries—Canada, the United States, Russia, Australia, and China—will account for 75% of the G20’s capital expenditures on new gas projects between 2018 and 2030.
With Argentina holding the G20 chair this year, the report also focuses on that country’s plans for its Vaca Muerta shale gas reserves. “Argentina’s push to open massive shale gas deposits to investment risks undermining its commitment to the Paris Agreement and the work of the Energy Transitions Working Group during its G20 Presidency,” Oil Change notes in the release.
“The world does not have the time nor the space to use gas as a bridge or transition fuel. We need to fully decarbonize by 2050 if we are to have a good chance of preventing the climate crisis from reaching catastrophic levels,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development. “That means phasing out the use of all fossil fuels as fast as possible. Those who argue for stepping up production and consumption of gas in the transition are either conveniently ignorant of the science or deliberately deceptive.”
“The G20 presents an opportunity for economically powerful countries to debunk the dangerous myth that fossil gas can act as a bridging fuel to a low-carbon future,” added Dr. Katherine Kramer, climate change global lead at Christian Aid. “Fossil gas is a false solution, all the more egregious when there are sustainable renewable sources of energy that are cost-effective and provide energy access for the poorest people through using indigenous wind and solar. Why ‘bridge’ when you can leapfrog to truly clean energy?”