Stern questions for shale gas fracking
Today, as 60 Sussex police were required escort lorries to Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Balcombe, Lord Stern challenged the government’s claim that “home-grown” fracked gas supplies would mean cheap energy for the UK. The claim was “baseless economics” because UK gas would be sold to the highest bidder, whether inside or outside the UK. As a result, any shale gas boom in the UK would be unlikely to have an impact on the world price. Stern, who led the influential review of the economics of climate change in 2007, also argued that the environmental risks from fracking still require a proper investigation. Fracturing of deep shale rocks to release oil and gas from by blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the rock has been linked to environmental problems such as earthquakes and water pollution.
Lord Stern’s review on the economics of climate change concluded that “climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response.” His work remains the most authoritative statement on the economic case for pricing carbon emissions and investing now in alternatives to fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the Green Alliance has warned that UK’s low carbon sector is being undermined by a lack of political leadership and unfocused policy. Its survey of 12 green businesses highlighted that Germany, China, and South Korea are all showing greater ambition than the UK. They were identifying priority low carbon technologies for development and providing long-term funding support.
On 21 October, the TUC’s latest conference, Green Growth: no turning back will develop the argument that as the recovery starts to take hold it is more important than ever that the new economy we seek to create follows a low carbon path. A fresh look at climate science on the day will point to the need to maximise opportunities for jobs, skills and green growth while addressing the urgent challenge of climate change.
As the Party conference season opens, we will be tracking their respective green economy statements. For the Liberal Democrats, distinctive policies that highlight differences with their coalition partner include:
- Provide greater policy stability, by enacting a legally binding target for decarbonising the power sector by 2030, in the range of 50-100g of CO2 per kWh of electricity.
- Facilitate investment in low-carbon technologies and infrastructure by giving the Green Investment Bank adequate borrowing powers and promoting the creation of green financial products.
- Develop and retain a skilled and flexible UK workforce.
Meanwhile, today, Lord Stern also commented that protests such as the camp outside the potential fracking site in Balcombe, Sussex, were an important part of a functioning democracy.