Column: How Hydraulic Fracturing Has Helped the US Lead on Climate
As representatives from around the world work to finalize an agreement in the last few days at the Paris COP21 climate conference, it is important to acknowledge the fact that hydraulic fracturing and the increased use of natural gas has done more to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than any other government scheme or agreement.
Without adopting stringent policies such as the Kyoto treaty or cap-and-trade, the United States, the largest economy in the world, has the distinction of being the only country in the world to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. That is why, in his address to world leaders at COP21, President Obama was able to tout that the “advances we’ve made have helped drive our economic output to all-time highs and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 2 decades.”
The evidence of shale gas’ enormous role in reducing emissions is all around us. In fact, the world’s most prominent climate scientists, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has credited the hydraulic fracturing boom and US natural gas for the great progress that has been made on climate change: “A key development since AR4 is the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal-drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply and allowed for a more extensive switching of power and heat production from coal to gas; this is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”