Report by Climate Action Tracker warns that overly bullish gas demand forecasts will lead to stranded assets or an unsafe future climate

Gas is often touted as a “bridge fuel” to a clean economy, but climate analysts say it has only a limited role (Pic: Flickr/ Ormen Lange)

To prevent dangerous climate change, natural gas will have to be phased out faster than in most official forecasts, according to a new report.

If countries are serious about the Paris Agreement aspiration of limiting the long-term world temperature rise to 1.5C, then many of the proposals to increase gas production and distribution will be unnecessary. New terminals and pipelines will never be fully used and will become stranded assets.

Conversely, if they go ahead with these investments, it risks locking in levels of fossil fuel use that will blow the climate target.

The report, Foot off the Gas, is published by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent science-based assessment which tracks countries’ emission commitments and actions.

CAT’s members are Climate Analytics, Ecofys and NewClimate Institute, with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research as a collaborator.

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The report says part of the problem is that governments, guided by projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA), are overestimating the need for natural gas, both to replace coal and to act as emergency back-up when supplies from intermittent renewables falter.

IEA annual reports have consistently underestimated the speed of growth of renewables and failed to grasp the increasing role of other technologies like bio-gas, battery storage and hydrogen to even out any intermittency in…