Fracking and climate change
A5 flyer Why workers should oppose fracking
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The Committee on Climate Change has concluded that exploiting shale gas by fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with UK climate targets unless three tests are met. Read more about why we believe not only that the tests will not be met, but also that the government is not even taking them seriously.
Click here to read more about the trade unions opposing fracking, and their reasons for not supporting it.
Find out more about fracking developments
A bridge to nowhere
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is a means of extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping water in at high pressure. It has been responsible for serious local pollution, including poisoning drinking water supplies, in the US.
It has been argued that as a lower-carbon fuel than coal, shale gas can act as a 'bridge' to low-carbon power, allowing more time for renewable energy to become more efficient. However, the counter-argument is that developing fossil fuels makes it more difficult to switch from a high-carbon future to a low-carbon one.
The UK’s commitment to make our fair contribution to reduce emissions in line with keeping global warming below a 2°C rise gives a very clear global carbon budget – and hence a UK budget – i.e., how much carbon we can put into the atmosphere over this century. Here the maths is unambiguous – we have insufficient budget for the carbon we are already emitting. By the time shale gas is produced in any quantity (five to ten years) there will be no emissions space left for it.
In the absence of a stringent limit on total carbon emissions shale gas will not substitute for coal - certainly not on a global level.
Shale gas directly competes with investment in renewable technologies vital for combating climate change.
The US has seen an increase in the release of methane gas as a direct result of fracking. This is important because methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Substituting gas for coal only benefits the climate if leakage can be kept below 2%. New evidence on methane emissions from fracking in the US suggests it is significantly higher than this. The Scottish government has released a series of reports highlighting the damages, and risks, of fracking. The Scottish Parliament voted supporting an outright ban on fracking earlier this year.