Gas must exit electricity generation rapidly after coal — as early as 2035 in rich countries, and by 2040 for the rest of the world — to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius limit in reach, a new report said on Tuesday.
The report, “Fossil gas: a bridge to nowhere”, by research organisation Climate Analytics looks at when different regions need to phase out fossil gas electricity generation to be 1.5 degrees compatible.
At the global level, it shows that the decline in fossil gas electricity generation should start immediately, and fall to just 15 per cent of total global electricity generation by 2030 to reach very low levels by 2035.
The findings are based on 1.5 degrees emissions pathways assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are designed to show the most cost-effective way to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
Developed countries will need to phase out gas first, to fall below 10 per cent of total electricity generation by 2030, and effectively be phased out by 2035.
For developing countries, the share of fossil gas generation will need to fall to below 10 per cent by 2035, and be phased out by the early 2040s. Developing countries will require financial, technical and, depending on the circumstances, transitional support from developed countries to shift to renewable energy systems at pace.
“Our analysis shows very starkly that fossil gas cannot be a transition fuel. Phase-out in all regions is at most 5-10 years after coal, much too short for investments in gas expansion to be cost-effective and avoid stranding,a said lead author Claire Fyson, who leads mitigation pathway analysis at Climate Analytics.
While there is growing consensus among governments on the need for coal phase-out, fossil gas has largely flown under the radar. Many governments are responding to the current energy crisis by planning for new gas infrastructure to replace Russian supplies.
“Gas use needs to be declining now, there’s no two ways about it. Supporters of gas present it as the ‘cleaner’ alternative to coal and a abridging fuel’ on the way to renewables — but the gap just doesn’t exist anymore. Renewables and storage are the cheapest forms of power on the planet,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.