Fracking facts: Ten things you need to know about shale gas

Shale gas is methane (natural gas) which is trapped in impermeable shale rock deep underground. The gas cannot flow through the shale, so simply drilling a well, as you would for conventional natural gas, is not enough. The shale rock must be cracked to free the gas, so large quantities of water, sand, and a range of chemicals are pumped in under high pressure (hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking'). Tens or hundreds as many wells are needed to produce as much gas as in a conventional gas field.

Current government policies, driven in particular by the Chancellor, George Osborne, promote shale gas as a solution to the UK's energy needs. But the facts suggest otherwise:

1. Proven global reserves amount to five times as much fossil fuel as could be burnt between now and 2050 and keep under 2°C of global warming. This basic fact is frustratingly often absent in media discussions about exploiting about yet another source to exploit.

2. Without effective policies to limit carbon emissions there is no reason to think that shale gas in Europe will push out coal – it is just as likely to compete with renewables.

3. There is a big question mark over whether shale gas exploitation is actually any better for the climate than coal burning. It all depends on how much gas leaks out during the process, since methane is a shorter lived but much more powerful greenhouse gas compared to CO2.

Met Emergency Meeting Concludes - Something Wrong with the Weather?

Yesterday, an emergency meeting was held at the Met Office to discuss the unusual weather patterns experienced here in the UK.  Examining the frozen winter of 2010/11, the wet summer of 2012 (the second wettest since records began) and this year’s bitter spring, scientists pointed to a number of factors thought to be responsible for our ‘weird weather’ – most of which (rapid arctic melt, disruption of the jet stream, warming oceans, more moisture in the atmosphere etc.) could be attributed to climate change. 

But despite scientific consensus and a growing body of empirical evidence affecting the every day lives of citizens of this country, there exists a continuing juxtaposition between the reality of the world facing climate change and the alternate reality inhabited by politics and the press. 

The failure to secure necessary green amendments to the Energy Bill in the House of Commons at the beginning of this month, Osborne’s proposed ‘Dash for Gas’, and rumours of renewed plans to expand Heathrow, demonstrate a ‘business as usual’ attitude held by a select group of political climate deniers apparently determined to pursue a path to growth at all costs. 

The Energy Bill - Why we need a #vote4cleanpower


Today and tomorrow the House of Commons will be gearing up again to debate and vote on the latest version of the Energy Bill. Campaign against Climate Change is supporting the inclusion of the amendments tabled by Conservative MP Tim Yeo and Labour’s Barry Gardiner and pushing for a #vote4cleanpower and a step away from a ‘dash for gas’.