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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


DOI: 10.1306/10021918031

How action on climate change could benefit United States natural gas producers, but not without federal mandates

James M. Rine

Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; [email protected]


Stimulated by a properly designed carbon tax, the United States natural gas (NG) industry could produce and consume more NG than business as usual (BAU) while staying within the emission level goal of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) to avoid exceeding an average +2°C global temperature rise. Explored are two options for the United States petroleum industry for lowering carbon emissions 80% by 2050. One option examines voluntary reduction in emissions and the other uses a United States federal carbon tax to diminish coal usage and incentivize carbon capture and storage. Also examined are economic implications for the industry following BAU with an average global temperature rise of approximately 2°C by 2050. By correlating drops in United States petroleum consumption and production with declines in global gross domestic product during the Great Recession of 2008–2009, projections are made for economic declines modeled by Burke et al. (2015) coinciding with BAU warming. Consumption of NG and oil in the United States suffered minor decreases from 2008 to 2009, but production levels did not. This indicates economic repercussions to United States petroleum caused by global warming are minor compared to the 80% drop needed to meet the COP21 goal. It is unlikely the United States petroleum industry will suffer major economic losses following a BAU path, discounting the potential costs of disasters and international or political conflicts resulting from climate change. Because of the range of potential positive to negative impacts resulting from climate change, however, the membership of AAPG should debate how to address this issue.

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