Abstract / Description of output
There is a projected shortcoming in the fourth carbon budget of 7.5%. This shortfall may be increased if the UK pursues a domestic shale gas industry to offset projected decreases in traditional gas supply. Here we estimate that, if the project domestic gas supply gap for power generation were to be met by UK shale gas with low fugitive emissions (0.08%), an additional 20.4 Mt CO2e1 would need to be accommodated during carbon budget periods 3–6. We find that a modest fugitive emissions rate (1%) for UK shale gas would increase global emissions compared to importing an equal quantity of Qatari liquefied natural gas. Additionally, we estimate that natural gas electricity generation would emit 420–466 Mt CO2e (460 central estimate) during the same time period within the traded EU emissions cap. We conclude that domestic shale gas production with even a modest 1% fugitive emissions rate would risk exceedance of UK carbon budgets. We also highlight that, under the current production-based greenhouse gas accounting system, the UK is incentivized to import natural gas rather than produce it domestically.