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Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is a means of extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping water in at high pressure. It has been responsible for serious local pollution, including poisoning drinking water supplies, in the US.
It has been argued that as a lower-carbon fuel than coal, shale gas can act as a 'bridge' to low-carbon power. This is a misleading claim, since:
The UK’s commitment to make our fair contribution to reduce emissions in line with keeping global warming below a 2°C rise gives a very clear global carbon budget – and hence a UK budget – i.e., how much carbon we can put into the atmosphere over this century. Here the maths is unambiguous – we have insufficient budget for the carbon we are already emitting. By the time shale gas is produced in any quantity (five to ten years) there will be no emissions space left for it.
In the absence of a stringent limit on total carbon emissions shale gas will not substitute for coal - certainly not on a global level.
Shale gas directly competes with investment in renewable technologies vital for combating climate change.
More on fracking and climate change below.
10-12th May 2013, Mere Brow, near Tarleton, PR4 6JX, Next to 'Leisure Lakes', Lancashire
The Campaign against Climate Change works closely with local and national campaigners, including Frack Off.
How much methane leaks during the entire lifecycle of unconventional gas is a key question in how damaging it will be to the climate. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4). And methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than (CO2), which is released when any hydrocarbon, like natural gas, is burned. Substituting coal for natural gas only benefits the climate if leakage can be kept below 2%.