SAN FRANCISCO, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. ambitious expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects to replace fossil fuel will probably cause much worse damage to the climate than had previously expected, according to a report released on Monday.
The United States is investing 507 billion U.S. dollars in expanding or building new LNG terminals to ship its gas to Asian markets, where there is a growing demand for non-fossil fuel to harness climate change problems, said the report issued by Global Energy Monitor, a non-governmental pro-climate organization based in San Francisco.
Washington is leading the list of the world's top 10 countries that have made the largest investment on import and export LNG terminals, and at least 202 LNG terminal projects are currently underway worldwide, including 116 export terminals and 86 import terminals, said the report.
It added that the construction of export terminals is mainly concentrated in the United States and Canada, while 42 countries and regions are building import terminals.
The ongoing projects will triple the global LNG export capacity, which will result in a steep rise in the production and consumption of LNG fuel.
The LNG expansion will have global warming impacts as large or larger than the expansion of coal-fired power plants, because of methane leaks that occur during drilling in the pipelines or delivery, the report warned.
Methane is the chief component in natural gas that is responsible for 25 percent of global warming to date.
"People had never expected the U.S. would become a huge gas exporter 10 years ago when large-scale oil fracking industry just got started," said the report's co-author Ted Nace, executive director of Global Energy Monitor, in a statement obtained by Xinhua.
Today, the cost of renewable alternatives has fallen constantly amid rising concerns for climate change, the expansion of LNG infrastructure may no longer be considered financially viable in the long run, the report said.
With such a scenario, the global investment of 1.3 trillion dollars in LNG infrastructure will be put at risk of becoming "stranded assets," it suggested.
Nace called for a moratorium on the expansion of LNG projects, saying that most of those projects are in the pre-construction stage and there is still time "before we lock ourselves into even more irreversible climate damage."
Global Energy Monitor is a non-profit organization with a network of researchers tracking fossil fuel projects and infrastructure worldwide in support of fossil fuel phase-out.