Fracking and climate change

To have a chance of limiting global warming to 2°C we need to limit emissions to 565 billion tonnes CO2 emissions. Proven fossil fuel reserves are 2795 billion tonnes – five times the safe usable limit – this could lead to potential warming of 6°C. The International Energy Agency says that increased exploitation of shale gas would set the world on course for a global temperature rise of 3.5°C, enough to trigger catastrophic climate change. Although gas is ‘cleaner’ than coal, it is still a fossil fuel and the Committee on Climate Change say that a move to shale gas would be incompatible with meeting our mandatory carbon budgets. The Tyndale Centre agree and state that “even if there were to be a rapid transition from coal to shale gas electricity, this could still not be reconciled with the UK’s 2°C commitments under either the international Copenhagen Accord or its own national Low Carbon Transition Plan. The Government is asking the Independent Committee on Climate change to report on whether fracking is compatible with the UK’ climate change targets – we will look out for this report.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape at The Wildlife Trusts, said, “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing wildlife and society, so every possible step should be taken to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to invest more in renewable alternatives. Fracking could take us several steps backwards, in terms of meeting climate commitments, and also poses multiple environmental risks, such as contamination of groundwater, which could severely harm communities, wildlife and ecosystems. These serious concerns must be addressed.”

Protection for wildlife sites?

The Infrastructure Bill (Jan 2015) originally said there would be a ban on fracking in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest and introduced mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments. But just eight months later, a major U-turn on this commitment has placed some of the country’s most sensitive and precious wildlife sites at risk by excluding SSSIs from the ban and allowing licences for underground activity in highly protected wildlife sites.

Fracking will also be allowed more than 300m beneath private land without the landowners consent. This is bad news for conservation landowners with sensitive sites that often reply on delicate aquatic ecosystems.

For more information about fracking

The Wildlife Trusts: www.wildlifetrusts.org/Fracking
Frack Free South Yorkshire: www.frackfreesouthyorkshire.co.uk
Sheffield Against Fracking: on Facebook and @nofracksheff on Twitter