Global greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise by nearly a third in the next two decades, putting hopes of curtailing dangerous climate change beyond reach, a new report by BP has found. The drastic rise in emissions, despite international efforts to cut carbon, will reportedly come despite the predicted enormous growth in the use of shale gas.

Shale gas, previously inaccessible because the exploitation of these resources requires technology that have only recently been perfected, will account for a rising proportion of the growth in energy in the years approaching 2035, but its use will not cause a decline in greenhouse gases.

The finding deals a blow to proponents of shale gas, who have argued that its use will cut emissions. Burning gas produces much less carbon dioxide than burning coal, but the effect of a huge rise in shale gas exploration will not ameliorate the increases in emissions that scientists say will take the world to dangerous climate change.

Proponents of the fuel have argued that shale gas can counteract dependence on coal. But while shale gas use has increased dramatically, particularly in the United States, where it brought down gas prices from $12 to below $3 at one stage, global emissions have continued to rise as the coal that would otherwise have been used has been exported elsewhere.

BP in its global energy outlook said gas would take a 27-per-cent share of global energy consumption and global emissions would rise 29 per cent by 2035, with a similar share for coal, oil, and an amalgamated low-carbon sector including nuclear, hydro, wind and sun.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that emissions must peak by 2020 to give the world a chance to avoid a further two degrees of warming, beyond which the effects of climate change become catastrophic and irreversible.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, says: “The real answers to the energy challenges we face [are] energy efficiency and renewable power.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

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