Houston’s Climate Action Plan Must Embrace Clean Natural Gas
Wed, April 22, 2020
The City of Houston released its Climate Action Plan (CAP) today. Texans for Natural Gas commends the city for pursuing a healthier, cleaner city, one prepared to tackle climate change today to bring us a better city tomorrow. But there is an additional opportunity to continue reducing emissions while also protecting households from higher energy costs. To do so, the CAP should better leverage the energy industry that calls Houston home and more thoroughly integrate the climate benefits of natural gas.
“Natural gas is a critical tool for lowering emissions – in Houston and across the globe,” said Elizabeth Caldwell, spokesperson for Texans for Natural Gas. “Houston’s climate plan must leverage our abundant supply of this clean and affordable fuel. We have the opportunity to affect change not just in the metropolis of Houston, but across the world by supporting the increased use of Texas-produced natural gas.”
Texans for Natural Gas believes the CAP could be enhanced in the following ways:
- Continue to shift the energy mix from coal to natural gas. The CAP acknowledges the critical role that natural gas has had lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the United States, writing that “…by shifting power generation from coal to natural gas…[natural gas] has greatly helped the United States reduce GHG emissions over the past decade.” In 2018, coal still comprised over 20% of Texas’ energy mix. At the same time, Texas led the nation in natural gas production, accounting for one-fourth of U.S. gross withdrawals in 2019 alone. By further utilizing the plentiful natural gas within our own state, Texas could cut its emissions even more, given that natural gas releases 55% less carbon dioxide than coal when used for electric generation.
- Embrace and encourage liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, which deliver the climate benefits of affordable natural gas across the globe. As a global city, Houston’s climate plan should also have a global view. Investment in LNG exports provide the means to improve emissions near and far. Expanding demand for natural gas in Asia and Europe, coupled with Houston’s prominence as an energy port, open the possibility of delivering clean Texas natural gas to meet those needs. In 2017, coal comprised 60% of China’s energy mix. This month, Houston sent what is destined to be the first U.S. LNG shipments to China in more than a year, opening the door for Houston to aid China’s transition away from coal and towards natural gas.
- Encourage the increased residential use of natural gas for heating across Houston. The residential use of natural gas has also proved to be more efficient than other means. One study found natural gas is not only more energy efficient than using electricity for home heating, it’s also more affordable, saving families an additional $937 versus electric heating.
- Recognize the role of natural gas in reducing energy poverty. Nearly 1 in 4 low and moderate-income (LMI) Texans experience energy poverty. Affordable natural gas helps combat energy poverty in Texas and around the globe as more people gain access to electricity and cleaner cooking fuels. One study found from 2008 to 2018, the average annual savings from low-cost natural gas were $900 per household per year, or $9,000 of savings over the ten-year period.
As the Energy Capital of the World, home to some of the globe’s leading natural gas and oil producers, Houston is well-positioned to solve these challenges and leverage the climate benefits of natural gas. Leaning into Texas-produced natural gas will enable our city and the world to meet ambitious emissions reductions goals.