George Osborne told MPs yesterday Britain would be “condemned” to higher energy bills and fewer jobs if it turned its back on fracking.
Standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Chancellor said “Frankly, I do not want to be part of a generation that says, ‘All the economic activity was happening somewhere else in the world, and was not happening in our country, and was not happening on our continent’.”
Mr Osborne was replying to a question by Labour’s Geraint Davies, who had asked whether waste water from fracking would be treated to make it safe to drink again.
The Chancellor said: “We will have the proper environmental standards around the exploration of shale gas, but I think for this country to turn its back on one of these great natural resources, which other countries are using, would be to basically condemn our country to higher energy bills and not as many jobs”.
Yesterday also saw a lobby of parliament by groups campaigning for action against climate change. The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, asked Mr Osborne whether the parliamentary pension fund should divest from fossil fuels, as the Norwegians had done recently.
He replied: “It is way above my pay grade to interfere with the parliamentary trustees of the pension fund here, and I leave the decisions on investments to them. I agree with the hon. Lady that the lobby of Parliament today is important and the Paris talks at the end of the year are a real opportunity to get a global commitment to binding standards and carbon targets. Britain will play its full part. What we want to achieve is dealing with those greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our international obligations on climate change, but doing so in the cheapest way possible for the consumers of electricity here in Britain.”
More from parliament in this week’s Fracking Week in Westminster tomorrow