The UK Guardian has a must-read piece for those who believe the shale gas revolution will save us from climate catastrophe, “The rise and rise of American carbon.”
As illustrated in this chart, while U.S. carbon emissions have dropped somewhat in recent years — thanks to energy efficiency, renewables, the recession, and shale gas — America’s contribution to the global problem of ever-rising carbon production and consumption grows unabated.
If this is a war on coal, I’d hate to see what appeasement looks like.
Whatever benefit the shale-gas revolution has had in reducing US emissions — a benefit that would appear to be seriously vitiated by huge methane leaks according to yet another major NOAA study — it has also been vitiated by our continued coal extraction for export.
And that is entirely separate from the issue of how much of our carbon emissions we have outsourced to China by virtue of our exploding trade deficit with the biggest carbon polluter in the world. We know in the case of Britain that that “the increase in carbon emissions from goods produced overseas that are then used in Britain are now outstripping the gains made in cutting emissions here.”
That is in fact the underlying point of this piece by Duncan Clark, consultant editor on the Guardian environment desk, who has coauthored the book The Burning Question: We can’t burn half the world’s oil, coal and gas, so how do we quit? Indeed, the International Energy Agency’s 2012 “World Energy Outlook” concluded “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal.”
In short, if you find yourself in a globally-warmed hole, stop digging up carbon.