US shale gas drives up coal exports

From the University of Manchester

US CO2 emissions from domestic energy have declined by 8.6% since a peak in 2005, the equivalent of 1.4% per year.

However, the researchers warn that more than half of the recent emissions reductions in the power sector may be displaced overseas by the trade in coal.

Dr John Broderick, lead author on the report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, comments: “Research papers and newspaper column inches have focussed on the relative emissions from coal and gas.

“However, it is the total quantity of CO2 from the energy system that matters to the climate. Despite lower-carbon rhetoric, shale gas is still a carbon intensive energy source. We must seriously consider whether a so-called “golden age” would be little more than a gilded cage, locking us into a high-carbon future.”

Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre notes: “Since 2008 when the shale gas supply became significant, there has been a large increase in US coal exports. This increases global emissions as the UK, Europe and Asia are burning the coal instead. Earlier Tyndall analysis suggests that the role for gas in a low carbon transition is extremely limited, with shale gas potentially diverting substantial funds away from genuinely low and zero carbon alternatives”

This Co-operative commissioned report “Has US Shale Gas Reduced CO2 Emissions?” is the third on shale gas from the Tyndall Centre – and builds on several years of research and submissions to the UK and European Parliaments as well as the International Energy Agency.

Chris Shearlock, Sustainable Development Manager at The Co-operative, said: “The proponents of shale gas have always claimed that it is a lower carbon alternative to coal. However, this is only true if the coal it displaces remains in the ground and isn’t just burnt elsewhere. Without a cap on global carbon emissions, shale gas is burnt in addition to other fossil fuels, increasing total emissions.”

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53 thoughts on “US shale gas drives up coal exports

  1. Chris Shearlock, Sustainable Development Manager at The Co-operative, said: “The proponents of shale gas have always claimed that it is a lower carbon alternative to coal. However, this is only true if the coal it displaces remains in the ground and isn’t just burnt elsewhere. Without a cap on global carbon emissions, shale gas is burnt in addition to other fossil fuels, increasing total emissions.”

    These people fail Logic 101.

    The logical valid statement is,

    ‘This is true because the coal it displaces isn’t mined.’

  2. Radical environmentalists have a one “trick” pony. Their only truthful answer (if you can get them to admit it) is this. Leave it in the ground.

    It doesn’t matter what “it” is. Coal, oil, natural gas, iron ore, copper, zinc, silver, gold, frac sand, etc…

    Just don’t ask them to give up all of the things made from fuels, metals and minerals that are mined which make our lives easier, safer and more productive. We are the ones that have to go without, not them.

  3. We need to restore all of that carbon, locked up in coal, to where it came from – the atmosphere. This is the ultimate environmental restoration project – why don’t the greens understand?

    Thanks
    JK

  4. Without a cap on global carbon emissions, shale gas is burnt in addition to other fossil fuels, increasing total emissions.”
    So they think energy producers will run two power stations at the same time to make the same electric twice? How stupid would that be? Oh, I forgot, that’s exactly what they would have us do with wind power.

  5. It’s a bit harsh to blame shale gas for being cheaper than coal in the US and not in the EU.

    Surely the problem is that shale gas is underexploited in the EU?

  6. What is ” The Co-operative” (proper noun) here? Does it refer to the UK Co-opertive Society, primarily a food retailer and bank, usually refered to as “The Co-op” ?

  7. It is always the same, when left leaning, government funded, academics try and interfere in market mechanisms, as they have done in ‘climate science’, then:

    The Law of Unintended Consequences comes into force.

  8. And as the cost of oil increases, coal will be substituted in as part of the feedstock for liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

    The Fischer-Tropsch process is well understood, having been used by Germany in WWII and by South Africa more recently. While coal stocks are finite, they are much greater than our reserves of oil.

  9. Pathetically myopic. But effective for the Greeny sense of logic.
    They ignore the trillions of dollars wasted on Green Energy stimulus and subsidies.. and who is going to point it out?

  10. “However, the researchers warn that more than half of the recent emissions reductions in the power sector may be displaced overseas by the trade in coal.”

    In reality the appropiate response should be “So what!”

  11. An increase in shale gas production and consumption in the U.S. does not drive up demand for coal in China.
    Other than that, it is perfectly clear that the objective of the more than somewhat illogical thinking of the people who produced the report is to have all of humanity, except for a selected few perhaps, shivering in the dark.

  12. That’s the way things always work these days. Being a prosperous society, we tend to do things efficiently and do not live ‘hand to mouth’ like much of the world. We wind up having all sorts of leaches on society who try to excerpt their influence in some attempt to ‘matter’, typically in the environmental area. As our ability in technology increases, we are able to measure smaller and smaller amounts of things so these whackos demand more and more stringent regulations in order to achieve their dream of clean dirt. Quite often, they end up chasing away those industries perceived as being ‘dirty’ to other areas of the globe, where many workers are illiterate, regulations are lax, and technology oftimes is ancient, nonworking, or nonexistent.
    Rather than burn coal here in plants that have been made compliant to stringent regulations already, it makes perfect sense to these idiots to export it to the third world where there may be no regulation or pollution technology at all. It’s like the current occupant of the white house forcing the US companies to stop offshore drilling while giving badly needed tax monies to foreign countries to do the same thing – except without the skilled workers, experience, or resources to do the job right.

  13. AGW_Skeptic says:
    October 30, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Leave it in the ground.
    It doesn’t matter what “it” is. Coal, oil, natural gas, iron ore, copper, zinc, silver, gold, frac sand, etc…

    People

  14. Another opportunity to use the word ‘fungible’.

    Very interesting – the more we reduce CO2 locally, the more we increase it globally!

    When will we learn?

  15. Now it is America’s fault that the Europeans banned fracking and invested billions in unreliable renewable energy, which also happens to be prohibitively expensive, forcing them to import coal from the U.S. to generate cheaper and much more reliable energy. On would think an intelligent person would conclude that approriate response is to remove the bans on fracking so that Europe could also reduce its carbon emissions (not sure why) as the U.S. is doing. But, I guess I am wrong in assuming we are dealing with intelligent people.

  16. AGW_Skeptic says:
    October 30, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Yes – “Greens” (like these “researchers” from the Tyndall Centre) are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to energy and modern technology. Once, I kept imploring these people, who would show up here at WUWT as our regular warmist trolls, to STOP using all fossil fuels (and things manufactured by them), but of course that fell of their deaf little ears. Don’t they know they are using fossil fuels when they access the internet??

    By the way, does their mantra “leave it in the ground” also apply to food crops?

  17. Walter H. Schneider says:
    October 30, 2012 at 5:44 am

    An increase in shale gas production and consumption in the U.S. does not drive up demand for coal in China.

    Correct, it drives up the demand for coal in Europe.

  18. Fat chance that the buyers of our coal will replace their energy generation with wind or solar. They could possibly pay a little more and buy from us LNG (that contains no pollutants). We could supply much of their needs for a long time to come by converting our vast resources of coal to clean burning natural gas. In any case, lnternational regulations are not the solution to a non problem.

  19. Great. Just fricken great. Export energy so industrialized, cheap labor countries can continue to produce and export to us inferior pencils, erasers, pens, staplers and staples, paper clips, paper, binders, shoes, clothes, rancid flour and cooking oil, nasty tasting mac and cheese, and inferior tables and chairs to eat and sit on.

    Bright idea: keep the #$%^ energy here. I am willing to pay for quality longer lasting goods set at a price that allows able people to get in on ground floor manufacturing wages. I am so done with “Walmart” goods.

  20. Carbonophobes inhabit a strange world indeed; one devoid of logic, truth, or indeed any semblance of reality.

  21. The carbon tax in Australia makes it more expensive to use coal in Australia, reducing demand for coal, reducing the export price. This lower export price makes the coal more attractive to China, increasing coal exports to China, where the coal is burned to make energy and jobs. Jobs lost in Australia due to the higher price of Australian coal in Australia.

    So, the net effect of the carbon tax is the loss of Australian jobs to China. There is no net CO2 reduction, because for every unemployed person in Australia that can no longer afford to buy manufactured goods, there is now someone working in China to buy the goods.

    So, while these grand schemes look good on paper, they simply don’t work because they assume that “all things remain the same”. However, in the real world this never happens. Money flows like water downhill to avoid tax. With it goes prosperity. And like water, regulations cannot hold back money for long. It is always searching for the loophole, the crack in the regulations through which to flow. What starts as a small trickle quickly widens to a flood.

    The problem is that people cannot flow like money. When our governments act foolishly we ultimately pay for their mistakes.

  22. A quote from the Tyndall Centre web site: “Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is a Trademark of the University of East Anglia”.

  23. The watermelons’ goal is POWER over people. They want “everyone else” to freeze to death in the dark, while their elite party.

  24. “Bright idea: keep the #$%^ energy here. I am willing to pay for quality longer lasting goods set at a price that allows able people to get in on ground floor manufacturing wages. I am so done with “Walmart” goods.”

    Pamela,
    I understand your frustration; however, since our power companies are steadily retiring their coal powered plants, coal companies are searching for new markets overseas. Not all of the sales go to China.

  25. “Earlier Tyndall analysis suggests that the role for gas in a low carbon transition is extremely limited, with shale gas potentially diverting substantial funds away from genuinely low and zero carbon alternatives” ”

    Tyndale sounds no different than a lobbyist for sustainable energy (ie Gubmint subisdized Energy).

  26. @Reality Check: You nailed it. Between the climate dictators and the unions there is only the new serf class of peasants and part time slaves.

  27. Don’t worry. They are cutting down whole forests to ship to Europe to burn in power plants that used to burn coal.

    http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/save-the-coal-kill-and-burn-trees-instead/

    And Putin is mocking them:

    “The German public does not like the nuclear power industry for some reason,” Putin said, adding that he would not comment on it. “But I cannot understand what fuel you will take for heating,” he said anyway.

    “You do not want gas, you do not develop the nuclear power industry, so you will heat with firewood?” Putin asked, as reported by Itar-Tass. “Then you will have to go to Siberia to buy the firewood there,” he said, adding that Europeans “do not even have firewood.”

    http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/putin-invites-europeans-to-siberia-for-firewood/

  28. Anything that is a threat to their behind the scenes investments in solar, wind, of any sort of subsidized “renewable” power crap will be demonized.

  29. Shale gas increases CO2 emissions because it is burnt along with the exported coal?

    Whatever coal is being exported is either displacing other coal or simply reflecting the overall increase in demand for energy not producible by eco-green means. The only issue is the natural gas being used in the US that replaces other fossil fuels (none replaces green energy).

    The Tyndall Centre sounds like another British anti-American smack (hey, I’m a ex-Brit, so I know the rhetoric well): the logic goes no further than the lips of the teller.

    A major impact of the climate wars on my understanding of the world is the poor and politically determined so-called science that goes on in universities and advisory institutes in the democratic countries. That and the ability of educated men and women to twist numbers and observations to suit their purposes without facial tics and Tourette-like outburts.

  30. Doug: “Whatever coal is being exported is either displacing other coal …”

    They are building new coal power plants in Germany because the greens made them shut down the nukes. If greens were bright enough they would consider it an own goal.

  31. The same thing would be true about increased coal exports if we were using a lot of wind-powered and solar-powered electricity instead. We must stop those wind turbines and solar panels!

  32. What the anti-carbon crowd does not seem to get is that during our lifetimes wind and solar power will never be sufficient to meet our energy needs. Fossil fuels are available in sufficient quantities to power our lives for at least the next 100 years.

    The carbon reductions from the shift from coal to natural gas have exceeded the carbon reductions from all wind and solar efforts. Worldwide. And that will be true for the next decade as well.

  33. Coal Bed Methane .Instead of burning the Coal as a solid and wasting energy breaking it down to create combustion.Burn it as a .Gas its most Combustible form.

    De Carbonize Coal simple

  34. China and India combined [as I read on the blog] will built 900 nw coal fired power
    plants within the next 5 years, because people over there want a steady electricity
    supply and not only when the wind blows…Also the people of Africa…..They will be
    supplied with US coal exports, a bonanza for the American King Coal . King Coal is
    the one and only global winner ! CO2 is on the UP and does not care of in which
    country it is being generated…..Let your pension be eaten away by high electricity
    costs: Quote: Some time before I was afraid of darkness…. now,…. after having seen
    the electricity bill, I am afraid of lightness…..JS

  35. J. Seifert, “900 nw” — nanoWatts? :-) That would be a tiny power plant, indeed! Nice idea — power plants on a chip. A new triumph of micro-lithography.

  36. If I was a coal miner in the U.S. instead of a coal geologist in Canada I would say to this “Ain’t that a shame…and your the one to blame” It seems to me if the Europeans were not importing so much from these places they would not need the coal to fuel their economies. Just saying you know.

  37. Apparently these folks are having a tough time when it comes to logical arguments. The coal that’s going overseas didn’t magically produce coal power plants – they already exist and would have burnt coal regardless of where it came from. The fact that cheap gas in this country has driven down the price of coal and made it ,more attractive to foreigners has no bearing on the carbon emissions due to coal. As for those heavy coal burning countries like China, it should be pointed out that China is building out nuclear in a big way and has a lot of hydro to boot. I might add that solar panels produce three times the carbon emissions of nuclear power.and more than half that of natural gas.

  38. From the Manchester article:
    “US CO2 emissions from domestic energy have declined by 8.6% since a peak in 2005, the equivalent of 1.4% per year.”

    EPA or EIA shows a considerably higher decline. EIA has the all time US annual emissions peak in *2007*, at 6.0 billion tons, and 2012 at 5.3 billion tons (12 months ending July), or a 12% decline over the six year period.

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec12_3.pdf

  39. The UK has seen its proportion of electric generated from coal this year shoot up. The reason given is high gas prices.

    The problem is that under EU emission rules all coal (and nuclear) plants must shut after their allowance of hours generating is used up, even though technically they are still working fine. Therefore the more they are used now, the sooner they will be forced to shut.

    Then the proverbial hits the fan.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/uk-electricity-statisticsquarter-2/

  40. Gee, what’s happened about 2008….

    Gas got very cheap in the U.S.A. due to a new approach to production (horizontal drilling and fracking – technically, not new, just applied in new places and novel ways).

    The economy tanks due to a whole lot of ‘other stupid’ (like the CRA signed by Clinton that both de-regged the banks AND mandated making bad loans “anti-redlining” and “liar loans” A-OK) while at the same time encouraging massive job movement to China…

    So China, being no fools, have built a massive manufacturing economy (powered by lots of coal) and are loaning us tons of money to buy their cra… products… assuring our endenture to them for generations to come.

    Our economy halts on massive debt, large imports of cheap goods undercutting our industry, and massive over regulation that drives industry to relocate to places like China. Demand for coal way down (as industry flees and we can’t pay the power bill, along with cheap gas undercutting on price); so China steps in and buys loads of it (sorry Europe, you may buy some too, but China loadings via Burlinton Northern Rail to the Pacific are way up and have been for a while. They got here first and larger.)

    Net Net: Energy supply and jobs / wealth move to China. Increase in CO2 and other pollutant production as they are less regulated. US Poverty and Debt head through the roof. But at least there are a few jobs digging up our natural resources and shipping them to China. Like all good Third World Banana Republics.

    All gas did was undercut prices and substitute for a load of coal. China would have grown and consumed that coal anyway, just from some other source. Yes, we could stop selling them coal. Think we have much else to sell them for “foreigh exchange” to buy their “goods”?… Think if we don’t sell them coal they won’t just buy it from {Australia | Canada | Russia | all over} or just mine their own? Anyone who thinks China will go along with a Global Coal Tzar telling them to return to poverty has never had negotions with Chinese. (Lucky for me, I was on the team WITH the Chinese guys… token White Guy and all…)

    Oh, and one must ask, are these Tyndal folks PUBLISHED and PEER REVIEWED in the field of BUSINESS? I.e. they need to pony up the Ph.D Business Admin and publication record to support their claims AND show it is the concensus of such folks. They are making claims about Economics and Business, not climate, here. By their own rules, that means they are not qualified and “outside the conscensus body”…

  41. Well then leave it in the ground and inject bacteria that turn coal into natural gas and then export the natural gas! Several companies already are using it on existing coal bed methane fields that were running out. Not no more! Once they start in on the coal that is too deep to be mined the whole world will be awash in natural gas even more than with fracking.

    Of course every time technology does and end run around these people they will find some excuse to try and ban that technology. I can hear it now “the bacteria will get into the water supply”.

    lucatechnologies.com & next-fuel.com for a few examples.

  42. EM – we still manufacture more than China – and more complicated stuff. But yes, fracking has discovered more ways to extract energy than ever before to the point as most here know we have the largest retrievable oil and NG reserves in the world.

    This Tyndale center might as well call themselves the society of luddites. They are about that aware of their environment and the world around it. Pathetic. When do the 60s children die out anyway? Very destructive bunch as a whole.

  43. Clearly, we need export tariffs on that cheap coal that we’re not allowed to burn in the US.

    The lack of understanding of basic economics is just astounding.

  44. Dr Broderick, as lead author, might have also considered where the surplus US coal output is being exported to, and at what prices, and what effect its availability and cheapness is having on traditional suppliers to particular markets.
    From Manchester, UK, he doesn’t have to look very far beyond the end of his nose to find a marked rise in US imports since late 2010 and coal prices down 30% since January this year.
    UK coal-fired generators have benefited from the co-incidence of low coal/high gas prices and have been contributing twice the supply from gas-fired stations for much of 2012 (not that consumers contracted to suppliers with a slice of coal capacity see any price difference compared with customers of all-gas generators).
    On the up-side, at least this has happened while UK still has the c-f capacity on line that has to close by 2015 (and some of it much sooner, having exhausted its allowed hours), otherwise we’d already be… I was going to say “toast”, but even that requires more energy than UK may have before long.

  45. Its almost as if the Germans (a) stopped their nuclear program and (b) refused fracking gas and then as a consequence (c) now ordered 23 new coal fired power stations, just in order that they could (a) buy the new coal they need from the USA, so they can (b) allow environmentalists to argue that USA nonconventional gas production is just shipping CO2 production abroad.

    That’s about how twisted, dishonest, cynical and muddle-headed these people are. In the end they just confuse and deceive themselves.

  46. If the watermelons really cared about the climate and CO2 emissions they would support a crash program to perfect nuclear fusion. However, when the Clinton administration came in in 1992 they actually exited the United States from the ITER program. Bush brought us back in until 2007 when the Pelosi led congress cut our contribution by over 50%.

    They don’t want a zero carbon future, they want a zero energy future. Humans are vermin that need to be culled for the good of the planet.

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