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Unless You’re A Fractivist, You’re Thanking Fracking for Flat CO2 Emissions

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


The world is experiencing flat energy-related CO2 emissions today despite economic growth, a truth frustrating to fractivists who dare not admit fracking is the reason.

There’s little more that needs saying beyond what the International Energy Agency (IEA) just reported (emphasis added):

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were flat for a third straight year in 2016 even as the global economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency, signaling a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity. This was the result of growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, improvements in energy efficiency, as well as structural changes in the global economy.

The picture that accompanies the IEA story, unsurprisingly, is of of-shore windmills as if that were the principle cause of this achievement. It is also listed first among the reasons for success. Political correctness demands as much, but read carefully (emphasis added):

Carbon dioxide emissions declined in the United States and China, the world’s two-largest energy users and emitters, and were stable in Europe, offsetting increases in most of the rest of the world.

The biggest drop came from the United States, where carbon dioxide emissions fell 3%, or 160 million tonnes, while the economy grew by 1.6%. The decline was driven by a surge in shale gas supplies and more attractive renewable power that displaced coal. Emissions in the United States last year were at their lowest level since 1992, a period during which the economy grew by 80%.

This is the truth from which fractivists are so eager to turn their heads. The bottom line is reflected in the following chart showing the now flat CO2 emissions:

flat CO2 emissions

And, there’s more:

Coal demand fell worldwide but the drop was particularly sharp in the United States, where demand was down 11% in 2016. For the first time, electricity generation from natural gas was higher than from coal last year in the United States.

With the appropriate policies, and large amounts of shale reserves, natural gas production in the United States could keep growing strongly in the years to come. This could have three main consequences: it could boost domestic manufacturing, supply more competitive gas to Asia through to LNG exports, and provide alternative gas supplies to Europe

In China, emissions fell by 1% last year, as coal demand declined while the economy expanded by 6.7%. There were several reasons for this trend: an increasing share of renewables, nuclear and natural gas in the power sector, but also a switch from coal to gas in the industrial and buildings sector that was driven in large part by government policies combatting air pollution

“In China, as well as in India, the growth in natural gas is significant, reflecting the impact of air-quality measures to fight pollution as well as energy diversification,” said Dr Birol. “The share of gas in the global energy mix is close to a quarter today but in China it is 6% and in India just 5%, which shows they have a large potential to grow.”

In the European Union, emissions were largely stable last year as gas demand rose about 8% and coal demand fell 10%. Renewables also played a significant, but smaller, role. The United Kingdom saw a significant coal-to-gas switching in the power sector, thanks to cheaper gas and a carbon price floor.

The flat CO2 emissions achieved simultaneously with economic growth is a completely new dynamic (growth without rising carbon) and it’s made possible by the shale revolution. Achieving more of the same requires fractivists to be honest about what’s happening or, better yet, to just go away.  Some words of Confucius come to mind:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone…”

If our fractivist friends mean what they say about CO2 emissions, then they need to change their language or what they seek to be done will remain undone. The IEA data proves it.

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2 thoughts on “Unless You’re A Fractivist, You’re Thanking Fracking for Flat CO2 Emissions

  1. It’s certainly interesting isn’t it? Environmentalists have been fighting fracking and natural gas and natural gas pipelines and talking about climate change for how long now? It’s been a while right? Meanwhile the reality is they are counterproductive. They fight something beneficial to their own goals. And this charade of insanity has been playing out for years now while the press snoozes through it or worse promotes it. It’s quite the scandal. It’s quite the story. And it needs to be broadcast widely.

  2. By the way according to the state of the state apparently NY is included among those not thanking fracking and natural gas for helping to lower co2 emissions.


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