The evidence is mounting that natural gas has no net climate benefit in any timescale that matters to humanity. In the real world, natural gas is not a “bridge” fuel to a carbon-free economy for two key reasons.
First, natural gas is mostly methane, (CH4), a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. So even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact — enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas.
Sadly as a comprehensive new Stanford study reconfirms, “America’s natural gas system is leaky.” The news release explains:
A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem.