Natural gas and the environment
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Composed mostly of methane, the combustion byproducts of natural gas are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour, the same compounds we exhale.
Some of the environmental benefits of using natural gas are:
- natural gas produces 25 percent less CO2 emissions than oil and 50 percent less CO2 emissions than coal
- particulates from natural gas production are 90 percent lower than oil and 99 percent lower than coal combustion
- natural gas does not contribute significantly to smog formation because it emits low levels of nitrogen oxides, and virtually no particulates when used as a transportation fuel
- in comparison to oil and coal, natural gas releases very small amounts of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons throughout the combustion process
- by shifting only 25 percent of current energy use to natural gas from coal, Canada and the U.S. could achieve their national emissions reductions targets
A shift towards renewable energy is a viable solution to cut carbon emissions - however, North American demand is simply too high to be supported entirely by renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy sources have, in the past, been more expensive to produce and are not always available. Natural gas is affordable, it can support renewable technology, and it is a reliable source of energy when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine.