For many years, natural gas was wrongly considered as an option to transition away from other fossil fuels that emit much more CO2, such as coal. But what is natural gas? A gas composed of methane, ethane, propane, butane and pentanes. Sounds a little scary? It is.
Let's shed some light on the issue by deconstructing three common myths about natural gas.
Myth #1: Natural gas has less of an impact on the climate than fossil fuels
This is not true. Natural gas has been wrongly considered as a less harmful option than oil or coal. But there is nothing more or nothing less natural about it. They are all fossil fuels and therefore non-renewable. So, natural gas pollutes? Yes - it’s composed of 95% methane, a gas with a global warming potential that is 84 times higher than CO2!
And the impacts don't stop there. Natural gas is produced by hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method used to extract natural gas from deep in the Earth (by injecting water, chemicals, and sand at high pressure in cracks below the Earth's surface). The accidents and dangers surrounding the production and transportation of natural gas are numerous and the distance to cover is great. In Quebec, natural gas is imported entirely from Western Canada and the United States. Not very local! In addition, the risks of leaks are high and the damage caused can be catastrophic. Équiterre has been documenting it for a while.
🤔 Natural gas isn’t renewable?
Natural gas is a fossil fuel, just like oil. There is renewable natural gas (made from organic matter), but it represents only a very small portion of the current gas supply.
Myth #2: Natural gas is an option for transitioning to clean energy
Wrong again. For nearly 10 years, scientific studies have clearly demonstrated that natural gas is not in line with a rapid and significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Natural gas cannot be considered a transitional energy, since it is a fossil fuel. It is therefore a false solution that slows down the transition to clean and renewable energy.
Myth #3: Natural gas for heating or cooking is safe
Unfortunately, this is not true. The potential health risks associated with gas stoves for children, the elderly and vulnerable populations have been known to scientists since the 1980’s. In recent years, disturbing reports have continued to accumulate highlighting that natural gas increases the risk of developing cardiopulmonary problems, in part because of the toxic pollutants in methane gas.
It has become clear that the misinformation surrounding natural gas must be stopped. At Équiterre, we have been communicating and documenting the true environmental impacts of natural gas and the perverse effects of its use on global and local energy trends for several years. We have been campaigning, along with other environmental and citizen-based organizations against all fossil fuels in order to accelerate the energy transition.