Shale production is a key factor allowing Uncle Sam to help solve climate change, and the world is noticing.
While the world hurtles to record levels of carbon emissions, rising another 3.2% globally in 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that carbon emissions fell more in the US than any other nation in the world during the last 5 years. Why? Shale gas was the key factor, according to the IEA. http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/05/24/shale-gas-boom-weans-u-s-off-carbon-heavy-coal.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that Fatih Birol, the Chief Economist of the IEA, says: "The replacement of coal by shale gas is a key factor and what happened in the U.S. could very well happen in China and other countries and could definitely help in reducing co2 emissions." Mr. Birol went on to say that shale gas in the US was a "success story." The FT story is rocketing around the world.
The IEA states that the US reduced energy related carbon emissions by 450 millon tons over the last 5 years. The 450 million tons is equal to about 1.4% of global emissions in 2011 and equal to 150% of all of Pennsylvania's emissions.
Moreover the IEA number is conservative, since it does not include a likely further 2.9%, or approximately 150 million ton, 2012 reduction projected by the EIA. By the end of this year, the US reduction should equal about 600 million tons or about 2% of global emissions. It is a big deal that everyone should be celebrating but expect silence from too many environmental quarters. This truth is extremely inconvenient to some.
The IEA reduction number also does not include the 600 million tons of new emissions that the Sierra Club calculates were avoided by the cancellation of proposed new coal fired power plants, when the price of gas collapsed.
While US emissions are plunging due to mainly shale gas, with assists from efficiency in transportation and renewable energy, China's emissions rose 9.3% in 2011 mainly due to greater use of coal. World emissions reached 31.6 billion tons, putting the world on track toward a 6 degree Celsius increase by 2050.
The assault on shale gas has done immense damage to the climate and removing other pollutants, as it is delaying an economical and immediate means of slashing emissions.
Sometimes the world is really bizarre. Former Vice President Gore tweets his support for banning hydraulic fracturing, a policy that would reverse the carbon progress the USA is making, while some ardent supporters of shale gas deny the reality of climate change, even though shale gas is slashing US carbon emissions.
Perhaps the IEA finding that the US has reduced carbon emissions more than any nation in the world during the last 5 years, in substantial part due to shale gas, will allow more environmentalists to speak up about the truth of America's energy choices.
Or will the fact that shale gas is slashing US carbon emissions remain a truth that many environmentalists dare not say?