Committee on Climate Change outlines conditions for fracking to be allowed
New report outlines three conditions required to exploit onshore shale gas reserves without jeopardising climate change targets
Onshore fracking in the UK should be allowed if certain conditions are met, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium on onshore fracking in January 2015, following concerns over the risk it would pose to the environment.
Environmental groups also warn fracking would be inconsistent with meeting the UK or Scotland’s climate change commitments.
But in a new report the CCC outlines three conditions which it said the UK Government would need to meet in order to exploit onshore shale gas reserves without jeopardising climate change targets.
The CCC warned the exploitation of shale gas on a significant scale would be incompatible with UK carbon budgets, or the 2050 commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80 per cent, unless emissions were “strictly limited” during shale gas development, production and well decommissioning.
Meeting emissions targets would demand that overall gas consumption remained in line with UK carbon budgets – meaning the production of UK shale gas must displace imports, rather than increase overall gas consumption.
If fracking was to go-ahead, emissions from shale exploitation would need to be offset by emissions reductions in other areas of the economy.
But the CCC also warned it was too early to know whether or not it is possible to meet these three criteria.
Professor Jim Skea, member of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “Under best practice, UK shale gas may have a lower carbon footprint than much of the gas that we import. However, gas is a fossil fuel wherever it comes from and is not a low-carbon option, unless combined with carbon capture and storage.
“This report sets out the tests that must be met for shale gas development to be consistent with UK carbon budgets. Existing uncertainties over the nature of the exploitable shale gas resource and the potential size of a UK industry make it impossible to know how difficult it will be to meet the tests.
“Clarification of the regulation of the sector will also be needed. The Committee on Climate Change will provide ongoing, independent assessment of whether these tests are being met.”
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