Report on gas resources raises debate

May 29, 2012 at 6:51 PM
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PARIS, May 29 (UPI) -- Environmentalists say a report by an international agency based in Paris predicting a "golden age" of gas plays down possible catastrophic climate consequences.

The International Energy Agency says gas use could grow more than 50 percent by 2035 if local problems with shale extraction can be overcome, but environmentalists say the report "buries" a warning that such a boom could lead to a catastrophic 6-degree Fahrenheit rise in global warming.

Critics say most policy makers won't get as far as that warning -- on page 91 of the IEA's report -- and that the agency should not be celebrating any golden age based on the consumption of fossil fuels.

"The 'golden age' for gas risks leading to temperature rises that will be catastrophic," Tony Bosworth of the Friends of the Earth told the BBC. "If we're talking about golden rules, we need one to protect the world's climate.

"The IEA should be making that top priority not hyping the prospects for the gas industry. If we get a boom in gas that'll starve investment from the clean energy sources we really need."

The IEA report is meant to propose rules for governments in countries faced with increasing number of applications to use fracking to harvest shale gas or other trapped gas.

An IEA official said criticism of the report was unfair.

"We are not saying that it will be a golden age for humanity -- we are saying it will be a golden age for gas, but only if problems with fracking are overcome," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said.

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