MIT has completed a multi-year study on the Future of Natural Gas. This report updates an interim report released in June 2010.

The interdisciplinary study examined the scale of U.S. natural gas resources and the potential of this fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The study’s economic analysis of the effects of a national policy calling for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions shows that such a policy would result in widespread substitution of natural gas for coal in electricity generation. However, in order to achieve even greater reductions in carbon emissions — which may be mandated in coming decades — natural gas will in turn need to make way for other low- or zero-carbon sources of energy. It is in this sense that natural gas may be seen as a “bridge” rather than as the ultimate long-term solution itself.

The study was co-chaired by Professor Ernest J. Moniz, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), Professor Henry D. Jacoby of the Sloan School of Management, and Dr. Tony Meggs, Visiting Engineer of the MIT Energy Initiative. Numerous CEEPR and Joint Program researchers were involved in the economic analysis including Dr. John Parsons, Professor Ignacio Pérez-Arriaga, Dr. John Reilly, Dr. Sergey Paltsev, and Dr. Mort Webster.

View full report.

(September 2011)