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US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports: Boom or bust for the global climate?

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Due to surging natural gas production, the United States is now a growing exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to overseas destinations. However, the potential greenhouse gas implications from increased US natural gas remain unclear. Through a hybrid lifecycle energy strategy analysis, we investigate potential greenhouse gas scenarios of US LNG exports to Asia, the largest source of global LNG demand. We find that the climate impacts of US exports to China, Japan, India, and South Korea could vary tremendously. Annual global lifecycle emissions range from −32 to +63 million metric tons CO2e per billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of exports. Despite this range, emissions are not likely to decrease and may increase significantly due to greater global energy consumption, higher emissions in the US, and methane leakage. However, international climate obligations are a critical uncertainty underlying all emissions estimates. Our results indicate the need for further research into quantifying the climate impacts of LNG exports, and energy exports more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1671-1680
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Energy exports, Lifecycle analysis, Liquefied natural gas (LNG), Methane leakage

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