Fracking – four things UN climate negotiators must know

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Fracking – four things UN climate negotiators must know

by Jamie Gorman


Governments cannot agree with fracking and sign this agreement on climate change.( under a Creative Commons Licence)

UN climate talks began on 4 June and will continue until 15 June. The talks in Bonn, Germany come before the discussions by heads-of-state in Lima at the end of this year. They will talk about the Kyoto agreement and also a new agreement for action on climate change after 2020. They hope to agree on action in Paris in 2015.

‘Fracking’ is a dangerous way of getting shale gas and it is very polluting. Communities around the world are saying no to fracking and calling for other ways of finding renewable power owned by communities.

Here are four things that UN climate negotiators need to know:

1. You cannot have fracking and take action on climate change.

Fracking is not possible if governments seriously want to take action on climate change and reduce emissions.

Burning more gas from fracking will stop governments from meeting targets on reducing emissions. Shale gas from fracking is not the answer that marketing departments are trying to tell us they are. Liquid ‘natural’ gas from fracking needs to be supercooled and made into liquid for shipping. The energy needed for that and the possible leaks from fracking wells make the carbon emissions worse than coal.

Bill McKibben started He says that this is not the answer but it is continuing the use of fossil fuels.

2. Action on climate change can stop fracking.

Governments are meeting at the UN climate talks because they must agree on fair and just ways to take action on climate change. The negotiators have decided to agree on ways to help climate change and reduce emissions by November 2015.

But fracking is a dirty fuel with high carbon emissions. Governments cannot agree with fracking and sign this agreement on climate change. Many groups and individuals want to protest against decisions that make climate change worse and decisions that go against individual rights. An example is the British government’s plan to change laws to allow fracking firms to drill under private land without the owner’s permission.

3. Fracking stops us thinking abut real answers to climate change.

Fracking is stopping our governments supporting local communities to find sustainable energy.

When politicians support fracking, they are supporting ‘business as usual’ for the big oil and gas companies. But governments should support energy projects that communities can own and maintain.

4. The bad economics of fracking are easy to see with climate change.

Governments must reduce emissions from dirty fossil fuels to stop fast climate change. This means that 80 per cent of gas from fracking must stay in the ground and we can’t burn it.

Global temperatures must stay below a 1.5 degree rise. The International Energy Agency thinks that the gas in the ground will mean CO2 emissions will make a temperature rise of more than 3.5 degrees.

The climate agreement to replace the Kyoto agreement is expected in 2015. The new agreement could stop governments from using shale gas from fracking. This could stop emissions from these fossil fuels.

There is a lot to lose for gas companies. It is clear that gas companies will not easily give up state contracts. But every dollar that countries spend on fracking is a dollar countries will not spend on renewable energy. If governments are serious about reducing carbon emissions, spending money on fracking is a waste and is not necessary.

Jamie Gorman works for Young Friends of the Earth.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed)