Abstract for: The systemic impact of a transition fuel: Does natural gas help or hinder the energy transition?

In the Paris Agreement, many nations set ambitious global goals to stabilize and reduce carbon emissions in a long-term time frame. A large share of these emissions is caused by electricity production. Scientists have been debating the viability of using natural gas as a transition fuel while renewable energies mature technologically and economically. Although natural gas might help the energy transition by reducing emissions compared to coal, there are other long-term implications of investing in natural gas which work against reaching climate goals. One concern is that investments in natural gas might crowd out investments in renewable alternatives. This research reviews the literature on the role of natural gas in reducing carbon emissions. We advance the debate by laying out how various positive and negative effects of natural gas interrelate. Our research warns that natural gas’ negative delayed and global effects can easily outweigh the positive immediate and local effects. Existing studies converge on the fact that natural gas helps avoid greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, while unintended long term effects might also hinder the transition into renewables. Our review helps to formulate policies that allow benefiting from the potential of natural gas as a transition fuel while simultaneously avoiding the negative long term consequences.