All Gas And Gaiters
Senior executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the fledgling green energy industry.
Multinational companies including Shell, GDF Suez and Statoil are promoting gas as an alternative "green" fuel.
Central to the lobbying effort is a report claiming that the EU could meet its 2050 carbon targets €900bn more cheaply by using gas than by investing in renewables. But the Guardian has established that the analysis is based on a previous report that came to the opposite conclusion – that renewables should play a much larger role. The report being pushed by the fossil fuel industry has been disowned by its original authors who referred to it as "biased" in favour of gas.
For the last two months, company lobbyists have been besieging government officials in Europe, the US and elsewhere to push the report. Their efforts are being boosted through alliances with energy-intensive industries, which are joining in the pressure on government in the hope of securing cheap energy.
James Smith, outgoing UK chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, one of the leaders in the lobbying effort, said switching to gas would offer the world "a breathing space" in the battle against climate change.
This view was challenged by Prof David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change. He told the Guardian: "You can't reach the [climate] targets like this - there is no way that switching to gas would solve the problem. I don't think it's really credible that gas is the only future."
Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said: "Gas is potentially a game changer. But it is complementary to renewables, as it can be turned on and off quickly. It could be baseload power and we could turn off coal."
Jenny Banks, climate and energy policy officer at WWF-UK, called on the British government to halt shale gas exploration. "It would be ridiculous to encourage shale gas when in reality its greenhouse gas footprint could be as bad as or worse than coal. We need to reject this source of gas, and have a clear plan to move away from our dependency on fossil fuels and harness the full potential of renewable technologies."
The clash of religion and reality. Cheap gas is good for all of us, and it could be the saviour of the renewable sector. By having gas turbines at the ready to fire up every time the wind stops blowing and the sun goes behind a cloud we can keep these expensive reliquaries to worship at whilst keeping the lights on.