What Is the Global Warming Impact
of Switching Coal Power to Natural Gas?

The global warming impact of shifting electricity generation from coal to natural gas depends on how much the natural gas system leaks, how quickly coal power plants are replaced, and how much time passes after replacement begins. This interactive updates an earlier version released with the report, Natural Gas and Climate Change, and lets you explore the influence of these three factors.

In this version the Global Warming Potential (GWP) for methane has been updated to the moderately higher values reported in the latest (2013) report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Also, methane emissions assumed to result from coal mining have been reduced to represent the average for all coal used in the U.S. today.

Click below on a leak rate and a coal-to-gas conversion rate to explore different scenarios.

Coal-to-gas conversion rate
(% per year):

Methane leak rate (%):

gas worse than coal ↑
gas better than coal ↓