The increasing abundance of cheap natural gas, coupled with rising demand for the fuel from China and the fall-out from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, may have set the stage for a “golden age of gas,” the International Energy Agency said Monday.

Under a scenario set out by the IEA, global consumption of natural gas could rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years, with it accounting for more than a quarter of global energy demand by 2035, up from 21% now.

But while natural gas is more clean-burning than coal and oil, it is still a fossil fuel, and its increased use will lead to higher emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, the IEA warned. More gas will also mean less take-up for low-carbon energy sources like renewables and nuclear power. “An expansion of gas use alone is no panacea for climate change,” said Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA’s executive director.

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