Conflicting understanding on Unconventional Gas as a transition fuel

On 11th March 2013 the government launched the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil (OUGO), it is understood that both UK Methane Ltd and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research were present.

On 14th March 2013 at the debate in Bath between UK Methane and Frack Free Somerset, UK Methane said that they had recently been at a meeting with Ed Davey, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, and that they recognised that we need to decarbonise our energy sector and said that unconventional gas could be a transition fuel to help reduce emissions from coal.

On the 12th March 2013 Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research was unimpressed with the government’s assertion that an unconventional gas industry is compatible with our legal commitment to limit climate change to a 2°C rise this century.

Professor Anderson does not mince his words on the subject:

“Shale gas is the same as natural gas – it is a high carbon fuel, with around 75% of its mass made of carbon. For the UK and other wealthy nations shale gas cannot be a transition fuel to a low-carbon future – anyone who says differently does not understand our explicit international commitments under the Copenhagen Accord, the Cancun and Camp David Agreements – or, alternatively, is bad at maths”.

“In the UK and globally we are now reaping the reward of a decade of hypocrisy and self delusion on climate change. We pretend we are doing something ourselves, whilst blaming others for rising emissions. The truth is out – it is a tragedy of the commons par excellence – we are all to blame and we have left it too late for a technical fix. We are heading towards a global temperature rise of 4°C to 6°C this century; if we don’t get off this trajectory shale gas needs to stay in the ground and we, in the wealthy world, need to consume much less energy – now!”

Today (14th April 2013) we hear in the press that food production needs to rise 60% by 2050 but that production gains may be cancelled out by climate change. Millions face starvation as world warms, say scientists

Today we also hear that the government has ignored planning advice that commercial and residential property should not be built too near UK nuclear plants – Planning advice is ignored over building near nuclear sites. If the government ignores planning advice over nuclear plants then it may pay scant regard over unconventional gas planning.

Government and local communities need to get real and start joining up the dots between energy, climate and food security.