Climate scientists have backed Britain’s shale gas revolution – saying it could help to slow global warming. The world’s leading experts on climate change say fracking will cut greenhouse gas emissions and should be made central to the country’s energy production.
It will help the UK move away from ‘dirty’ coal and contribute to saving the environment, according to a report by the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The report says it is ‘quite clear’ that fracking is ‘very consistent with low-carbon development’ and the technology could ‘significantly’ reduce emissions.
The unexpected endorsement from 235 eminent United Nations scientists and economists will be a welcome boost to David Cameron, who is a keen advocate of the new technology.
The IPCC report, published yesterday in Berlin, says natural gas has a role to play for at least the next 35 years as a ‘bridge technology’ while the UK expands its use of wind and solar power.
And it says shale may provide electricity and heat for our homes long beyond that if scientists can safely develop an emerging technology that traps carbon dioxide and stores it underground.
It is also a blow to green activists, who seek cuts in greenhouse gas emissions but are concerned about the effects of fracking
The scientists say that wind, solar and hydroelectric power need to triple or even quadruple in scale over the next 35 years if global warming is to be safely controlled.
But natural gas – whether drilled from conventional wells or extracted from fractured shale deep below the ground – also has a role because it emits roughly half the volume of greenhouse gases as coal.
Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the IPCC authors, said: ‘The shale gas revolution can be very consistent with low-carbon development – that is quite clear. It can be very helpful as a bridge technology.’
The IPCC document is the first major assessment in seven years of the options for dealing with climate change.
It will inform the policy decisions of governments around the world and will also be used as a bargaining tool before next year’s UN climate conference in Paris, which aims to set legally-binding targets on every nation to reduce carbon emissions.
Britain is thought to have vast reserves of shale gas trapped in rocks thousands of feet underground that can be extracted by firing water and chemicals to fracture rock.