Why we don’t need fracking

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By Alice Hooker-Stroud

Appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Caroline Lucas noted in response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee who published a report on fracking in the UK, “We simply don’t need to be going down this road. There is a road that is there with energy efficiency, renewable energy .. these are the secure energies of the future. … The way to do it is to invest in those energy sources.”

“I’m not in the least bit persuaded,” she argued, “We don’t know how clean gas from fracking is… it will lock us into a fossil fuel future.”

“Absolutely a priority now is to be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency… particularly when scientists also tell us that we need to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we’re to have any hope of avoiding dangerous climate change.”

Earlier this year in a debate on Government Levies on Energy Bills, she stated similarly, in relation to our very own report Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future, “We know that we could make huge inroads on the amount of energy we use if we were serious about that [energy efficiency]. If we combine that with renewables, there is plenty of evidence from the Centre for Alternative Technology and many others that we could get the nuclear (sic.) reductions we need without nuclear or more fossil fuels.”

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee today called on the UK government to speed up shale gas development in the country, but UK campaigners (alongside Caroline) disagree, stating the focus should be on renewable energy.

“But, wind, for example, is interruptable (sic)” stated Lord MacGregor in defense of fracking, “shale gas can deal with that interruptable (sic) point.” However, hourly energy modelling of a renewable energy system from the Zero Carbon Britain project shows that even in this role, fossil fuel shale gas from fracking is unnecessary. Instead, we can use renewable energy and biomass to create synthetic, carbon neutral gas to back up our energy system and ‘keep the lights on’; avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuel gas like that from fracking.

One thing we can agree with from Lord MacGregor however, is that “We do need to be getting on with it now.” With currently available, 100% renewable technologies, we can achieve a zero carbon Britain if we choose. Here’s how: