Professor Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, gave evidence to the inquiry today against Cuadrilla’s plans for fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Here are the key points from his evidence:
- Gas is not low carbon
Professor Anderson said “It is erroneous to regard any fossil fuel as low carbon. Natural gas is almost identical in climate change terms to shale gas. Both are 75% carbon by mass and emit large amounts of CO2 when burned.” Low carbon energy is defined as 100g of CO2 per kilowatt hour. Natural gas produces 400-450g of CO2 and coal is even higher.”
- How long is the bridge to a low carbon future?
Cuadrilla has said the fracking applications are sustainable by referring to a Amber Rudd’s statement to parliament in which she said shale gas was a bridge to a low carbon future. Professor Anderson said the UK was already well across the bridge. “The bridge needs to come to an end by 2030. We need to be getting to the other side of the bridge and coming of gas by then.” He said Amber Rudd knew the research but had chosen not to put a time on the bridge.
- “Foolhardy” to develop shale gas for five years
The inquiry heard that Cuadrilla predicted a shale gas production industry could be underway by 2025. Professor Anderson said to meet UK climate change commitments, electricity generation had to stop using gas by 2030. “You would have five years where shale gas would have a role. There would be a five-year window – it would be foolhardy to develop it for that time frame”.
- “Maths don’t add up for shale gas”
Professor Anderson said he would not support any shale gas applications in the UK. He told the inquiry: “If you were not to renege on domestic and international climate change agreements then I could not support shale gas because the maths don’t add up. If you were to renege on the agreements then a range of new options, including coal, becomes available.”
- Cuadrilla carbon emissions “under-estimate”
Cuadrilla estimated in the environment statement on the two fracking sites that their carbon emissions would be 118,000-124,000 tonnes of CO2 over the six-year-life of the projects. This is equivalent to 5-9% of Lancashire’s carbon budget or 0.007-0.01% of total UK emissions for each year of the project. Professor Anderson said this was inevitably conservative and an under-estimate. Since the ES had been written, the International Panel on Climate change had increased the relative importance of methane to global warming from 24 to 35. The ES had used the lower figure.
- “Irresponsible use” of the UK carbon constrained budget
Professor Anderson said “Emissions of between 118,000 and 124,000 for exploration for its own sake is an irresponsible use of the UK carbon constrained budget. It is equivalent to 18 months of car travel in the Fylde.” The emissions could be justified only if the project resulted in a full-scale shale gas industry that could operate within the constraints of 2 degrees C of warming.
- Sustainable and timely
Mrs Rudd’s statement said shale gas developments should be sustainable and timely. Professor Anderson said to be sustainable, shale gas had to comply with our climate change obligations.
- Amber Rudd or David Cameron?
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, put it to Professor Anderson that Mrs Rudd’s statement said it should be used in deciding planning applications. But Professor Anderson said the Prime Minister’s statement in Paris supporting the Climate Agreement was more recent and could also apply to planning decisions.
- “No new fossil fuel sources”
Professor Anderson told the inquiry: “If we are not to breach the 5th carbon budget or the Paris Agreement, we cannot have any further development of fossil fuel sources within the UK”.
- Wytch Farm “not a fair comparison” for shale
Supporters of shale gas in tourist areas refer to Wytch Farm in Dorset as a successful and unobtrusive gas production site. Professor Anderson said Wytch farm was a “stand-alone and leave-alone” site. “It is a different form of production to shale gas. It is not a good comparison”