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Category — Coal

IPCC tries a gamble with shale gas

Alex Kirby

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Non merci: A French protest against drilling for shale gas. Image: Camster via Wikimedia Commons

The latest IPCC report urges a dash for gas to allow us to reduce the burning of coal. And it accepts the use of shale gas, which threatens to be far more polluting than originally thought.

If you support fracking, you should be pleased with the latest report from theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). It’s given the green light to the use of shale gas as a short-term way to slow climate change.

The report is the third and final part of the latest IPCC assessment on climate change (known as AR5). While it puts considerable emphasis on the need for more renewable energy – including solar, wind and hydropower – it says emissions of greenhouse gases can be cut in the medium term by replacing coal with less-polluting gas, though the gas will itself ultimately have to be phased out.

On shale gas, obtained by the controversial fracking process, Ottmar Edenhofer – co-chair of the working group that produced the report – said it was quite clear that the fuel “can be very consistent with low carbon development and decarbonisation”.

Among the objections to fracking is the fact the process releases quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas often reckoned to be at least 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. That is the comparison we have often used in the Network’s reporting. It’s right, so far as it goes. But by some calculations it doesn’t go nearly far enough. [Read more →]

April 15, 2014   No Comments

Warsaw – Day 8: King Coal gets a kicking

Paul Brown in Warsaw

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One of Poland’s coal-fired power plants, which produce 86% of its electricity. Image: Slawomir Duda-Klimaszewski via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Brown, a Climate News Network editor, is in the Polish capital for the UN climate talks – the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Today he reports on concerns at COP 19 that banks are paving “the highway to hell” by investing billions in coal and so worsening climate change.

Coal has dominated the agenda in Warsaw, with demonstrations against the Polish Government’s decision to hold a coal summit during the climate talks.

Scientists, UN officials and green groups said coal reserves must be left in the ground if the climate is not to overshoot the internationally agreed safe maximum temperature increase of 2°C over pre-industrial levels.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who had left the climate talks to address the Coal and Climate Summit, had an uncomfortable message for the assembled chief executives of coal companies.

“I am here to say coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake”, she told them. Coal use could continue only if carbon dioxide was captured and stored, otherwise the world should switch to wind and solar, which she said were already competitive on cost in many parts of the world.

During the coal summit 27 of the world’s leading climate and energy scientists issued a statement saying investment in new coal plants without capturing the carbon dioxide emissions from them was unacceptable. [Read more →]

November 18, 2013   No Comments