Green Pulse Podcast: Can natural gas, a fossil fuel, really be green?

Centrale natural gas electricity power plant in Drogenbos near Brussels, Belgium, 31 August 2022. PHOTO: EPA

Synopsis: Every first and third Monday of the month, The Straits Times analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.

The world is now at an inflexion point when it comes to energy. The Russian war on Ukraine is worsening the global energy crisis, highlighting the need for countries to safeguard energy security. At the same time, humanity’s long reliance on fossil fuels is having devastating impacts on societies. So how will countries deal with this situation? Will our fossil fuel use go up, or down? 

As countries deliberate on this issue, one fuel type has come under the spotlight: Natural gas. This is the same fuel that powers Singapore, and is considered cleaner than coal and oil since it produces less planet-warming carbon dioxide when burnt. But natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and comprises mainly methane, which has a more powerful warming effect than carbon dioxide on shorter time scales. 

So the question is: Can natural gas really be considered a greener fuel, as countries wean themselves off fossil fuels? In this episode, The Straits Times’ environment correspondent Audrey Tan and climate change editor David Fogarty discuss the issue with energy finance analyst Sam Reynolds, who is from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:23 When did natural gas start to become a viable alternative to coal and oil? 

6:04 Why gas may not be as green as proponents claim.

8:54 The problems with continuing to invest in new natural gas plants today.

15:35 Can renewable energy be stepped up quickly enough to reduce the need for gas? 

17:54 Can gas infrastructure be used for hydrogen, an emerging green fuel?

Produced by: Audrey Tan (audreyt@sph.com.sg), David Fogarty (dfogarty@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis and Hadyu Rahim

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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