Cracking Up: UK Greens Fracture Over Fracking

loving the planetA high-profile Scottish environmental campaigner has given his backing to fracking as long as safeguards are in place and key conditions are met. In a significant intervention that will help to undermine opposition to the energy source, Robin Harper, the first Green MSP and now the chairman of a major environmental trust, said that he would be prepared to give his cautious backing if it could be proved that it was an improvement on the burning of coal and oil. His comments will be a major setback for anti-fracking campaigners, who have argued that anything other than a complete ban would damage the environment. Mr Harper’s powerful green credentials mean that they will not be able to dismiss his views easily. –Hamish Macdonell, The Times, 10 September 2015

Environmentalists should keep cool heads over fracking, says Friends of the Earth’s former climate campaigner. Bryony Worthington – now Labour shadow energy minister – says fracking will create less CO2 than compressing gas in Qatar and shipping it to Britain. Baroness Worthington’s intervention may prove significant. She is a professional climate and energy analyst, and one of the architects of the UK’s radical Climate Change Act. “We have to be realistic,” she told BBC News. “We are going to be using gas for a long time because of the huge role it plays for heating homes and for industry. –Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 10 September 2015

Can the green lobby win the shale argument over environmental objections? I don’t think it can. 10 or 20 years ago it could have won, when governments were willing to burn billions, but the economic climate has changed, we’re facing the biggest crisis in decades. No government in the world would give up this shale opportunity, not even the British government, which is very green indeed. I don’t think they have a leg to stand on when it comes to shale. People will realize that this energy is far less impacting on environments than most other forms of energy. ‚ÄìBenny Peiser, Natural Gas Europe, 25 October 2011

Anti-fracking protesters could be viewed as potential extremists under the government’s new counter-terrorism strategy, police have told teachers. The bizarre advice was offered during a training session as part of the Prevent strategy, which aims to stop youngsters being brainwashed by Islamic extremists. The group of 100 teachers were told that people campaigning against fracking in their local area could be regarded as having extreme views. They were also warned that environmental activists and anti-capitalists could be deemed a threat, with the Green MP Caroline Lucas given as an example. –Eleanor Hardin, Daily Mail, 5 September 2015

Despite facing opposition on numerous fronts, the development of a regulatory regime to promote the exploration of shale gas in the UK has continued apace following David Cameron’s comments earlier this year that the UK was “going all out for shale”. The UK government has reiterated the national need to develop the UK’s shale gas resources to improve the country’s energy security and transition to a low-carbon economy. The passing of the Act and introduction of measures to fast-track shale gas planning applications confirm the UK government’s commitment to the development of the UK’s indigenous shale gas resources.  Industry will certainly welcome these initiatives as developers remain keen to accelerate the rate of progress of exploratory fracking in the UK. —Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, Enery Legal Blog, 8 September 2015

In our forthcoming book, The Price of Oil, we argue that although oil has experienced an extraordinary price increase over the past few decades, a turning point has now been reached where scarcity, uncertain supply and high prices will be replaced by abundance, undisturbed availability and suppressed price levels in the decades to come. We note that practically all energy forecasting organizations are predicting an expanding fossil fuel future for decades to come, with oil continuing to play a key part in satisfying the world’s energy needs. Moreover, the oil industry’s investment behavior exhibits unbelief in deep climate policy within the foreseeable future. The stranded asset phenomenon may come to apply in the main to expensive, subsidized renewables if these attitudes prevail and become instrumental in policy evolution. Despite the difficulties in predicting what might transpire, history and current behavior point to no more than a superficial climate policy in the foreseeable future, with our projected revolutions proceeding by and large unhampered. We deem that the great ambitions of the Paris climate meeting in December 2015 are very unlikely to be fulfilled. –Roberto F. Aguilera and Marian Radetzki, Global Warming Policy Forum, 10 September 2015