UK and Poland announce plans to push fracking across Europe

David Cameron tells Polish Prime Minister that he will cooperate […]

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Climate State

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January 15, 2014

David Cameron tells Polish Prime Minister that he will cooperate to prevent EU legislation that could slow down fracking industry

By Sophie Yeo | Release URL 

The UK and Poland have pledged to work together against any EU regulation that could threaten the shale gas industry.

Speaking to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on the phone, David Cameron pledged to work with him to ensure a bright future for fracking across Europe.

The conversation comes as the EU works out a climate change package that would regulate the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions until 2030. How the countries choose to produce their energy between now and then will partly determine whether they meet their new targets.

“On shale gas, they (Cameron and Tusk) welcomed the progress made to head off EU legislative proposals and agreed that there should be further co-operation to promote the benefits of shale gas across Europe,” said a Downing Street spokesperson.

He added that they also wanted “to ensure that the European Commission does not place burdens on the industry that prevent countries from realising the sector’s full potential.”

“I am not in favour of new legislation where the lengthy timeframes and significant uncertainty involved are major causes for concern,” Cameron wrote to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in the letter dated December 4.

“The industry in the UK has told us that new EU legislation would immediately delay imminent investment.”

France has a moratorium on the technology, while it is also effectively banned in Germany.

Maps published by the government in December revealed that over 60% of British land could be available for fracking licenses. The Times reported today the UK ministers are considering allowing more of the profits made by the fracking industry to be channelled into the communities where the wells are drilled.

Poland’s Environment Minister Marcin Korolec was sacked halfway through the UN’s annual climate negotiations that he hosted last year, with reports suggesting slow progress on shale development as the main reason for his removal.

His replacement, Maciej Grabowski, was quick to highlight shale gas development as his priority.

In November, he told the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that he was keen to form coalitions with states such as the UK to fight against EU regulation that could hamper the nascent industry.

“I know what is happening in Brussels, some concern is warranted,” he said. “If there is need we will act in an unambiguous way on many front lines and create coalitions to back our position.”

While the EU is unlikely to dictate how countries should source their energy, the 2030 package will impose a greenhouse gas target binding member states to further emissions reductions.

Today, two committees within the EU voted for a 40% reduction. The White Paper is due to be released on 22 January.

Fracking for oil and gas faces widespread opposition within the UK,  and last summer Cuadrilla was thwarted in its plans to drill for oil from shale in southern England.

While gas is cleaner to burn than coal, opponents say that the UK should not lock itself into a new source of fossil fuels at a time when it needs to work on slashing its emissions.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Mallard January 15, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

    From researching methane, global atmospheric values were rather stable until 2007 then began to rise, why? That year was the great drop in Arctic sea-ice extent yet the permafrost and seabed clathrates hadn’t become very voluminous so we are left with fracking as the cause.

    Since a decade’s worth of emissions are released when a well head goes in that means to make that release up the difference in forcing caused by the CO2 reductions versus other fossil fuels plays catch up before matching the effect of the methane to warming. This truth is shown by radiative forcing which has gained 30% since 1990 with no slow-downs.

    Then, freshly released methane is more effective at forcing, about 100-times more than CO2, this ages over the first decade down to about 40-times more forcing and after some decades to the molecular 23-times more potent thereafter. This means there is a thermal gain far beyond the relative reduction of the CO2 abatement effect in the popular press and claimed by industry.

    So this does fit into why methane is not a “transition” fuel as it has not a positive reduction in forcing and that is the ultimate measure. For this conclusion please reference this page which shows since 2007 the rise in methane and estimate total forcing for the 4-major and 15-minor greenhouse gases: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/aggi.html

    Now consider the fact that the Arctic methane has begun to accelerate emitted volume and this will add continuously until either the deposits are depleted or the seabed and land permafrost are refrozen. These deposits are now exponentially growing in size and emission volume with centimeter-wide seabed vents now a kilometer across in the just the past two years, so much that methane releases are measurable above the sea-ice in winter due to the ocean water now only cooling to 0C when it requires -2C to freeze the seabed and “cap” the clathrate deposits.

    The other exceptional condition is that these deposits hold over 1,000-gigatons over millions of square kilometers and today’s atmosphere contains about 5-Gt, so they can clearly be a problem to warming. Then, add to that ice-cores from Greenland have shown large jumps in global temperatures of 10-14C in very short time-frames, as little as 40-years. This can be from earthquakes destabilizing some of the deposits, or, it could be from a warming and perforation of the seabed to such an extent a rapid release happens. Either way the condition is runaway greenhousing and what we do with CO2 is meaningless at some time from now.

    What’s the safety factor here with fracking, why are we doing it with alternatives that basically only need better large-scale, high capacity battery arrays and multi-megawatthour arrays in containers are available today?

    Until the 1900’s methane varied between 400-900 ppb, today it’s about 1,800-ppb with summer plumes running well above 2k-ppb in the Arctic that don’t disperse and sit in the stratosphere acting as heat blankets to further heat the land which is also releasing both CH4 & CO2, and, to stop the Arctic methane likely the only solution is to maintain the sea-ice extent at traditional coverage in late summer so the ocean doesn’t heat and isn’t allowed to mix by protection from the wind.

    Today the sea-ice is effectively gone because the purpose is to allow the ocean to cool to -2C in winter, that’s the functional need so to do that requires a radical drop in CO2 or runaway greenhousing will happen and what’s the game to not want a safety factor on such an important condition?

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      Chris Machens January 15, 2014 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Notice, how the USA recently revised it’s methane emissions and yes fracking – especially the leakage is significant. Natural gas is not a bridge fuel, it is a major source for greenhouse gas emissions.

      Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study Finds

      Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane due to human activity were roughly 1.5 times greater in the United States in the middle of the last decade than prevailing estimates, according to a new analysis by 15 climate scientists published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
      The analysis also said that methane discharges in Texas and Oklahoma, where oil and gas production was concentrated at the time, were 2.7 times greater than conventional estimates. Emissions from oil and gas activity alone could be five times greater than the prevailing estimate, the report said.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/us/emissions-of-methane-in-us-exceed-estimates-study-finds.html?_r=0

  2. […] the UK, shale gas has received a boost from David Cameron, who vowed to go all out for shale by offering taxpayer-funded giveaways to companies. But the news […]

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