In the past week, exploratory shale gas drilling, otherwise known as ‘fracking’ has begun in the U.K. Fracking involves pumping water, chemical additives, and sand into shale rocks, causing the release of gas that will produce energy. This process may lead to the contamination of groundwater and may contribute to earthquakes surrounding the fracking site. Despite the long and ongoing protests, the government has overturned the ruling of Lancashire county council and have given fracking the go-ahead. The main site for fracking in the U.K. is the site on Lancashire’s Fylde coast, operated by the energy firm known as Cuadrilla. This project is part of much larger government scheme proposed by Theresa May, which involves directing £1 billion of additional resources towards the development of fracking.
While the effects of fracking upon the community can include small earthquakes and contamination of water, for many, the fight against fracking goes beyond that. Henry Owen locked himself to the top of the scaffold at the shale gas site in Lancashire, protesting against fracking. He claims that this project is “being pushed through by [a] government who doesn’t care about their commitments to take action on climate change”. This echoes the sentiments of top climate scientist, James Hansen, who states that “the science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the ‘unconventional’ fossil fuels such as tar sands and ‘fracking’”.
The recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that there are approximately 12 years left to avoid the disastrous effects of climate change. It is irresponsible of the U.K. government to continue on a path which is not only destructive worldwide, but is damaging to the communities near the fracking sites. Furthermore, not only did the IPCC issue a warning regarding climate change, the report also called upon international governments to take radical action towards decarbonizing their economies. Craig Bennet, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, states, “it is morally bankrupt to be heralding the start of a whole new fossil fuel industry, when climate catastrophe awaits”. Through the pursuit of fracking as a viable source of energy, the U.K. has not only disregarded the will of the many diverse communities within its borders, but the government has also failed to recognize its responsibility to the global community.
Given that fracking is a relatively new form of energy exploration, it is often difficult to understand its potential. However, fracking isn’t the solution to our energy needs. To this note, and in accordance with Greenpeace, investing in fracking diverts the vital funds needed for the advancement of clean and renewable energy projects.
Fracking has been a controversial method of energy exploration for a number of years, and only recently has it been incorporated within the energy plan of the U.K. While fracking is a destructive method in itself, the implications it would create exceeds beyond that of the Fylde coast. Given the recent warnings of the IPCC report and also the years of caution from climate scientists, there is a drastic need to decarbonize our economies across the globe. This should be the primary concern for the U.K. government. Now is not the time to invest in new forms of fossil fuel exploration. Instead, we should be actively prioritizing clean, renewable energies as the primary contribution to the U.K. energy economy. We can no longer be blind to the imminent risk of climate change, and the U.K. government must listen to its citizens by disbanding from fracking projects.
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