Shale gas climate impacts – according to the “task force on shale gas”

The industry funded Task Force on Shale Gas has today released its third report Assessing the Impact of Shale Gas on Climate Change.

The report brings nothing new to the table and rehashes existing information whilst coming to their own conclusions. It also has some massive holes in it, no least its central argument that shale gas is “cleaner” (aka “less dirty”) than coal and by displacing coal can help us to decarbonise. The conveniently misses the point that our coal fired power stations are due to close by 2023 and rather than displacing coal shale gas would displace Liquefied Natural Gas and that the emissions benefits of shale gas against LNG are at best marginal.  This self appointed industry funded “task force” is suggesting that shale gas is a bridging fuel to a decarbonised economy. This is the same argument used by UK Methane and  Cuadrilla’s chief geologist who said at a seminar in Bath a year ago that the solution to climate change was more and more gas. Despite giving a seminar on fracking in Bath he didn’t seem to know anything about the Bath Hot Springs or the local geology and presented a slide from DECC which had been doctored to make shale gas emission intensity look less – on the basis of wishful thinking rather than evidence. On the other hand DECC’s former Chief Scientific Advisor very clearly stated (twice) in his report on greenhouse gas emissions that:

Without global climate policies (of the sort already advocated by the UK) new fossil fuel exploitation is likely to lead to an increase in cumulative greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of climate change.”

The task force report conveniently ignores global cumulative emissions which are what actually matters. For a full analysis and commentary on the task force’s climate change report have a look at Carbon Brief’s take on it.

The potential impacts of climate change and in particular sea level rise on Somerset are profound. Let’s hope that DECC (read George Osbourne who has actually taken oven energy policy) will stop listening to this so called task force and start listening to its scientific advisorsthe Environmental Audit Committee and the  Committee on Climate Change whose job it is to provide this kind of advice without first filtering it through a gas industry prism.  However, Ministers seem to prefer to trumpet the views of the task force rather than their statutory advisors.

Thanks to Jill Sutcliffe for pointing out this reference: A bridge to nowhere: methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas


3 thoughts on “Shale gas climate impacts – according to the “task force on shale gas”

  1. The key evidence is in scientific paper by Robert Howarth A bridge to nowhere: methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas, Energy Science and Engineering
    April 22nd, 2015

  2. Thanks for all your work with regards to fracking. I know we’ll disagree on this, but having researched global warming due to CO2 emissions, I believe it to be completely unproven and based on predictions that never occur. There are many like me. So, every time someone argues against fracking, based on the science of Global warming, I believe it damages their argument in many peoples eyes. Therefore, as fracking is appalling enough on so many other levels, such as water and land contamination, the impact on health etc – shouldn’t we focus on those?  No matter what we think about global warming, climate change and CO2 emissions, people will be turned off the anti-fracking movement if climate change is presented as a key fracking issue.  Kind regards, Simon Sewart  

    • Thanks for your comment. You are right we do disagree.

      Unconventional gas and fracking are about opening up and combusting a new fossil fuel and I think that disassociating it from climate science is rather difficult. The link between atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations (including CO2) and global warming is well established mainstream science and is uncontentious. Public, political and media opinion of whatever flavour doesn’t change this.

      As I understand it you are saying that people will be put off arguments against unconventional gas development if they are associated with climate science for which there is a very high degree of scientific agreement including by the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, NASA and 97% of climate science papers that have stated a position on it. That would seem to be an odd position to take to me and one that is hard to justify.

      Burning a vast new fossil fuel is a climate change issue. Whilst there are uncertainties climate science is well established and almost universally accepted by climate scientists. The world’s governments are not getting together in Paris at the end of November to thrash out a deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions for nothing.

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