UN Official: Shale Revolution May Delay Green Energy Transition By 20-30 Years

  • Date: 26/02/14
  • Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

UN’s top environmental official says switch from coal to natural gas is delaying critical energy transition to renewables.

Shale Gas Costing 2/3 Less Than OPEC Oil Converges With U.S.

Shale gas is drilled in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Steiner argues the rapid spread of natural gas is putting off the transition to low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty

Shale gas could turn out to be “a liability” to global efforts limit climate change, the United Nations’ top environmental official has warned.

Supporters of the shale gas boom, which has spread across America and more recently to Europe, claim the fuel could help wean economies off the more carbon-intensive coal.

But Achim Steiner, who heads the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), said there was a far greater risk that the switch from coal to natural gas would only delay the much more critical energy transition from fossil to renewable fuels.

“If it is used as a means of not investing in the transition to a renewable energy economy then I think it will become a liability in our struggle to meet climate change targets over this century,” Steiner said in an interview.

“If it turns into a 20 to 30-year delay to making the transition towards real low-carbon and zero-emission energy matrixes then I think it could actually become a distraction and in that sense slow down our efforts,” he went on.

Full story