Tuesday 30 September 2014

Tunnelling under you

So the Tories want to change the law so that fracking companies can tunnel under your house whenever they want without you being able to do a thing about it.

Much of the argument in favour of fracking relies on the apparently profitable experience of the United States, together with concerted and persistent attempts to rubbish reports about contamination, earthquakes and so on. A publication by IDDRI, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, “Unconventional wisdom: economic analysisof US shale gas and implications for the EU” suggests that the benefits of fracking to the USA are not as large as some would claim.

Their estimate is a “long-term effect on the level of US GDP (not its long-term annual growth rate) at about 0.84% between 2012 and 2035”. Not massive. And given that we know that, because of geological differences, fracking is a lot cheaper in the States than here, that suggests it really won't make any big difference to our economy at all.

They also suggest “the US shale revolution will not lead to a significant, sustained decarbonisation of the US energy mix” - and that should be the ultimate goal of all energy policy, to decarbonise so as to reduce the threat to our environment.

And finally “Shale production would not have significant macroeconomic or competitiveness impacts for Europe in the period to 2030- 2035”. So look elsewhere for a properly sustainable and effective energy policy.

I was about to finish by blaming the government for pursuing shale with reckless abandon (are we allowed to say “Reckless” now about the Conservative led coalition?), and I do think they, or at least the Tory part, are being at least silly and at most downright reckless with our future. But then I realised that I would be falling into the neoliberal trap which allows corporations to stoke spending and consumption by blaming governments for everything that goes against our inclinations. In this case the Tory half of government is to blame, but it's not all their fault: we should be consuming less, heating the planet less, and making clear to our political leaders that further fossil fuel consumption is not acceptable.