Sunday, 26 December 2010 11:11

An Incredible Gift Featured

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By Kelly Rogers* Global natural gas supply provides incredible potential for a transportation revolution in Latin America, a message highlighted at an event in Cancun, co-hosted by the Worldwatch Institute and the International Gas Union. According to BP, Latin America provides some 5.5% of the world’s natural gas and is estimated to hold at least 6% of its natural gas reserves.
Senator Timothy Wirth’s presentation highlighted that that there is an enormous natural gas supply across the world just waiting to be used as part of the shift to a low carbon global economy. Natural gas could be a smart choice as policies to drive economic growth come up against increasing pressure to push a low carbon growth path to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Wirth deemed natural gas “a remarkable gift” that brings opportunities for replacing coal, transitioning to a low carbon economy, and for use as a transportation fuel for truck transport and urban fleets. Latin America and the Caribbean face an important challenge as GHG emissions in the transport sector grow rapidly in tandem with strong economic growth and the associated rise in private car ownership according to the World Bank. Mr. Brett Jarman, Executive Director of NGV Global, a company which is involved in the development of natural gas vehicles, noted that three Latin American countries - Argentina, Brazil and Columbia - are already among the top ten nations using natural gas vehicles. Supply of natural gas is abundant, growing, and globalized in Latin America. In 2008, Brazil began operating floating liquid natural gas operations and since then Argentina and Chile have followed suit. More recently, Karoon Gas Ltd. of Australia announced that it plans to invest over $300 million in the South American natural gas markets of Brazil and Peru. The Wall Street Journal deems this investment “just a start” in South America.  With the right incentives and policies in place, this industry provides a very exciting opportunity for the region’s economies. The problem, as noted by Senator Wirth, is that the final negotiating text from Copenhagen mentions natural gas in two or three sentences. There is very little discussion of the viability of this source at the global level. Some attempts are underway such as the US State Department’s Global Shale Gas Initiative, developed to assist countries with vast unconventional gas supplies (such as Argentina) with science, technology and regulatory assistance for extracting shale natural gas. Efforts to promote natural gas are bubbling away and the forum was an important contribution in the attempt to un-tap the potential of this key strategic resource. *Kelly Rogers is currently a first-year Master's student of Public Policy at Brown University where she is focusing her policy studies on the institutional and political barriers to US domestic climate policy progress.
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