What does natural gas have to do with climate change? Gas-fired power plants emit less than half the carbon dioxide of coal-burning power plants, and can easily replace old coal plants or handle new demand.
The potential problems with natural gas are high prices and the same energy security concerns that plague oil. If natural gas imports are deemed insecure and expensive, coal becomes more attractive as an alternative. Coal is terrible for the environment, and unfortunately we’re seeing a concerted push for a new generation of coal-burning power plants in the U.S. and Europe.
The authors argue that neither criticism of natural gas is valid. Detailed economic modeling shows natural gas to be cost-competitive with coal, and a political analysis suggests that gas can be supplied securely without risk of an exporters’ cartel.
This is welcome news. To the extent that we must burn fossil fuels, let’s at least focus on the clean ones first.