Successfully limiting climate change now hinges upon shutting down the global Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) industry.
In other words by 2050, the world can have an LNG industry, or a livable planet. The two are mutually exclusive.
The reason for this LNG’s large life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. Properly costed and applied, these will dismantle the industry. The upside, however, is that pricing carbon emissions will generate the funding for decarbonization of the global economy.
The secret lies in carbon pricing applied holistically across the natural gas LNG supply chain. When this is done, natural gas/LNG’s benefits are exposed as utterly illusory.
To get an appreciation of LNG industry disinformation, consider the two graphs below.
The first, more credible set, is from the US Energy Information Administration The US government posts LNG llfe-cycle emissions as b0.6-0.8, while the industry puts it s at 0.4-0.6. Hmmm
The second set of figures comes from the LNG industry lobby group International Gas Union. Those figures claim LNG’s life-cycle emissions are a third lower than those of the EIA. Odd, that.
What matters to climate change are the total emissions, not just selective parts of the chain. Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t distinguish between the two when it comes to global warming, so debate over fixing the problem shouldn’t distinguish either.
When these emissions become properly priced and traded, they will lead to substitution of higher emission sources for lower emission sources. They will also undermine the business case for LNG, leading to losses among those have made the enormous capital investments in them.
Another reason to better understand the environmental and economic risks posed by LNG is that most LNG facilities are built in sensitive coastal areas.
Big LNG companies commonly engage in government capture of local authorities, for instance in Australia’s Queensland, to bypass environmental protection laws to build big industrial sites in sensitive ecosystems, such as the land bordering the Great Barrier Reef.
Building big, costly, uneconomic, short-lived, environmentally-damaging infrastructure creates moral hazard: privatized profit, socialized losses.
In coming years, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will cost less on a carbon-adjusted life cycle basis than LNG. The need now is to halt investment in damaging LNG infrastructure by revealing the shortcomings the LNG industry likes to conceal.
Comprehensive application of carbon pricing will solve this.