Report | 2020

The Role of Gas in the Energy Transition

Using data and markets to curb methane emissions

By Cate HightLaura HutchinsonRaghav MuralidharanTaku Ide
Download the report below

Whether we can avoid exceeding 1.5°C of warming depends on the global gas industry’s willingness to solve the most important problem it has on its hands today: emissions of the extremely potent greenhouse gas methane, the primary component of natural gas.

Gas is often presented as a “clean transition fuel” because it burns more cleanly than coal. Though burning natural gas does indeed emit less carbon dioxide (CO2) and particulate matter than coal to produce the same amount of energy, the “clean” label for gas ignores the methane released into the atmosphere when gas is extracted, moved through pipelines, and distributed into homes and businesses. Worldwide, the oil and gas industry emits 80 million tons of methane pollution each year: 16 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas CO2 emissions.

Figure 1. Global methane concentrations have increased every year since 2005

How quickly the industry can eradicate these emissions will be an important determinant in whether or not we will meet our climate goals. Download the report to learn more about this issue and RMI’s efforts to address it.