Photo: Report concludes natural gas is not a climate solution

A natural gas well in Alberta.

By Ian Hanington

Download Finding Solutions PDF

Climate change and pollution, among other issues, are leading
Canadians to ask questions about our energy supply and use.

We know that we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. That means shifting away from polluting energy sources like oil and coal. Because burning natural gas produces fewer emissions than burning oil and coal, many people are eyeing Canada's natural gas resources to help get greenhouse gas emissions down — if only for the short term.

But is that realistic? A new report produced by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute explores the role of natural gas in Canada's fight against climate change. Inthe report, Is Natural Gas a Climate Change Solution for Canada? author and Pembina Institute research director Matthew Bramley looks at conventional and "unconventional" sources of natural gas, including shale gas and gas that is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Many supporters of natural gas see it as a "bridging" fuel that will allow us to make small, short-term reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while we look for better energy options. But the report concludes that the environmental impacts of natural gas are too great, and that it is not worth it to delay advancements in renewable energy technology. Getting at some of the "unconventional" gas poses huge environmental risks, and natural gas still causes greenhouse gas emissions.

The report argues that we would be better off moving quickly to renewable sources of energy and encouraging conservation.

The report makes several recommendations for the federal and provincial governments, related to greenhouse gas emissions, water protection, taxes and subsidies, public consultation, and more. Foundation staff will present it to government officials, media, and other environmental groups.

Read the report, available in English et en Français.

Read more