Future use of natural gas under tightening climate targets

Dubey, Luke and Speirs, Jamie and Balcombe, Paul and Tariq, Naveed and Brandon, Nigel and Hawkes, Adam (2023) Future use of natural gas under tightening climate targets. Futures, 150. 103158. ISSN 0016-3287 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2023.103158)

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Natural gas has developed as a prominent energy source across the world over the last century. However, its use in the future will be constrained by evolving climate goals, and an optimal role for natural gas in a future 1.5°C world is debated. We conduct a systematic review of the literature, and analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change SR1.5 scenarios to understand the role of natural gas in a 1.5°C world. We also examine key factors that influence the use of gas such as Carbon Capture and Storage and Negative Emissions Technologies. We find that global gas use decreases more considerably under a 1.5°C target than 2°C with half of the 1.5°C scenarios reducing gas use by at least ∼35% by 2050 and ∼70% by 2100 against 2019 consumption. We find there is no correlation between the level of Negative Emissions Technologies and the permitted gas use in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenarios, while there is a strong correlation between gas use and the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage. Regionally, there are considerable ranges in gas use, with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development & European Union seeing the greatest decrease in use and Asia increasing use until 2050. Notwithstanding this uncertainty, global natural gas use is likely to decrease in the coming decades in response to climate goals.