Minister questioned over shale gas threat to climate

181015 parliament tv

Debate on Clean Green Britain Week, 15 October 2018. Photo: Parliament TV

The energy minister, Claire Perry, has described shale gas as “entirely consistent” with UK measures to a low-carbon future.


Claire Perry. Photo: Parliament TV

She was responding to a challenge from Labour that shale gas would displace “genuinely low-carbon energy”.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on Clean Green GB Week, Ms Perry said the UK would “rapidly decarbonise gas”. But she added:

“It seems crazy to me not to soberly explore the science of exploiting a resource beneath our feet that could create thousands of jobs rather than importing it from an extremely unstable nation.”

The shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, pointed out what she said was a “terrible irony” that the start of Clean Green GB Week coincided with the start of fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road in Lancashire. She asked:

“How is this compatible with net zero emissions”

181015 Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Photo: Parliament TV

Ms Long-Bailey also pointed to the letter to government from the former NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, who urged ministers to withdraw support for fracking. He compared the UK’s shale gas programme to “aping Donald Trump” and “ignoring scientific evidence”.

Meeting climate targets

The Preston Labour MP, Mark Kendrick, in a written question, asked Ms Perry what assessment had been made on the effect of shale gas extraction on the UK’s ability to meet its climate change targets.

The minister said the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) had considered shale gas production at scale could be compatible with carbon budgets if three tests were met.

These are:

  • Shale gas methane emissions were minimised and monitored
  • Gas consumption remained in carbon budget limits
  • Additional shale gas emissions offset by reductions elsewhere

Ms Perry said these tests “can and will be met”.

She said the government had asked the CCC for advice on meeting the case made for a 1.5oC limit on warming set out last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The CCC should reply by March 2019 Link to letter

Safety and protection for fracking

Mark Menzies, the Fylde MP, whose constituency includes Preston New Road, urged Ms Perry to continue to “put in place the relevant safety measures and environmental protections”.

The minister replied:

“We have the strongest environmental standards in the world when it comes to oil and gas extraction.”

But she added:

“We believe that we may, indeed, need to continue to strengthen them.”

This appears to contradict suggestions that the traffic light system, which regulates induced seismic activity from fracking, could be relaxed.


Debate on Clean Green GB Week

Extract of speech by Rebecca Long-Bailey
Shadow business secretary, Labour
15 October 2018

Shale gas can only be described as low carbon if it replaces coal in the energy mix, but coal is already on its way out of the UK’s energy mix, before fracking has even started. If shale gas were to come online now, it would be displacing genuinely low-carbon energy, not coal. James Hansen, the former NASA scientist known as the father of climate science last week slammed this Government’s decision to pursue fracking as “aping” Donald Trump. What a terrible irony it is that the first day of Green Great Britain Week is the day that fracking is due to commence in Preston. How is this compatible with net zero emissions?

Extract of speech by Claire Perry
Energy minister, Conservative, Devizes
15 October 2018

I find it amazing that so many Labour Front Benchers will take the shilling of the GMB union but will not take its advice on shale gas extraction. They are claiming that this does not create jobs; the union fundamentally disagrees with them. They claim that it is not consistent with a low-carbon future. The Committee on Climate Change has said that it is entirely consistent with our measures. When they go home tonight to cook their tea, I ask them to think about what fuel they are going to use, because we know that 70% of the country relies on gas for cooking and heating. We have a choice. On current projections, we are going to move from importing about half our gas to importing almost 75% of it, even with usage falling, as it needs to going forward.

The challenge on shale is that we do use gas. We want to rapidly decarbonise gas as we will continue to do. This is entirely consistent with all our low-carbon pathways. It is even consistent with the hon. Lady’s proposals for the renewable economy, because she will need 40% of that to come from some sort of thermal generation. It seems crazy to me not to soberly explore the science of exploiting a resource beneath our feet that could create thousands of jobs rather than importing it from an extremely unstable nation.

Extract of speech by Mark Menzies
Conservative, Fylde
15 October 2018

I urge my right hon. Friend not to take any lectures from the Labour party when it comes to shale gas, because it was under the Labour party that the current licensing round for the shale gas that is being fracked today was issued. May I urge her to continue to put in place the relevant safety measures and environmental protections, as this Government have done, which were not there when the Labour party issued the licence round?

Extract of response by Claire Perry
15 October 2018

One of the reasons for believing that we can safely extract shale gas is that we have the strongest environmental standards in the world when it comes to oil and gas extraction. We believe that we may, indeed, need to continue to strengthen them.

However, is it not interesting? My hon. Friend has dealt with the brunt of a lot of the protests against the shale site to which we have granted a licence, and I was very disappointed to see Rebecca Long Bailey having a bit of a chit-chat with the protesters without bothering to go into the site to see its potential and the number of jobs that could be created by that vital industry.

Written question on climate change

Question by Mark Hendrick, Labour/Co-operative, Preston
15 October 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment he has made of the effect of shale gas extraction on the UK’s ability to meet its climate change targets.

Reply by Claire Perry
15 October 2018

The Government believes that shale gas has the potential to be a home-grown energy source which can lead to jobs and economic growth, contribute to our security of supply, and help us achieve our climate change objectives.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has considered whether shale gas production at a significant scale can be compatible with the UK’s carbon budgets, and has conducted that it can if certain conditions are met, which they have set out as three “tests”. These are:

  • Methane emissions from shale gas production are minimised and monitored.
  • Gas consumption remains within carbon budget limits.
  • Any additional shale gas emissions are offset by reductions elsewhere in order to meet carbon budgets.

We believe that our robust regulatory regime and determination to meet our carbon budgets mean those tests can and will be met. As such, we welcome the conclusions, and also the CCC’s belief that shale gas could make a useful contribution to UK energy supplies.

We welcome the recent publication of the IPCC’s special report on 1.5ºC. It sets out the strong case for pursing efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement, and reiterates that current global efforts are not enough to meet this unprecedented challenge. The UK’s way forward is set out in the Clean Growth Strategy and we have committed to asking the Committee on Climate Change for advice on our long-term targets in light of this new evidence.

53 replies »

  1. My goodness me, why on earth would someone need to pop into Cuadrilla’s site? The fundemental opposition to fracking put forward by Ms Long-Bailey was based on climate change. The recent IPCC report on climate change and criticism from James Hansen no less must not be ignored and the science, criticism and warnings has noting to do with visiting one fracking site in Lancashire.This is a global issue. And the comments from Mark Menzies are completely irrelevant. Science and time moves on, the fact is we now have moratoriums against fracking in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. We have the stark warnings of the IPCC and James Hansen, the only political party to support fracking in England is the Conservatives. Ms Long-Bailey is correct, coal is all but phased out in the U.K. and should be completely by 2025. So there will be no further significant emissions reduction from using gas post 2025. Indeed the second most polluting country on the planet is often wrongly held up by supporters of fracking as a shining example of fracking reducing green house gasses. But this is largely only because less coal is being burned. Methane levels and green house gasses from transport and other sectors in the US are nothing to be proud of. The US has a huge amount of room for improvement. And of course the US is still mining and exporting coal, adding to global greenhouse gas emissions. It is about time politicians and governments took the threat of climate change more seriously and consider the huge costs and negative impacts that climate change is and will cause because it will be a false economy not to invest heavily now in green energy and technology. It is we in the most developed economies that are responsible for the most global warming and we must take responsibility and act now. Having seen and heard Ms Perry’s recent comments I fear for our future.

  2. A vital condition from the CCC is ‘Methane emissions from shale gas production are minimised and monitored.’
    We really need confirmation that monitoring will be constant at every well, because fugitive emissions at even relatively low levels will make this source of gas worse than coal burning. I also hope there are detailed requirements far more specific than ‘minimised’. Again, minimised MUST mean lower than around 1-2% of production and even that will put a very potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. As usual, lots of platitudes and weasel words, but very light on detail. Of course, the production of fracked gas still represents a brand new source of hydrocarbons which, when burnt, will put yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere along with methane emissions. Exactly the opposite of what is required to slow and reverse global warming.

  3. Good job then Bob that USA does not provide the nuclear umbrella for the NATO countries, and has not committed all those dollars to renewing USA military capability . Oops, Yes he Does.

    You might be used to the Donald after another 6 years.

    • Yes and by then the stable genius will have his Space Force fully operational to protect us all ( hopefully from his immense stupidity and planetary sized ego)

      The worst US president in living history if not in the history of US Presidents, a massive retrograde step in terms of world peace, global working, environmental protection, racial and sexual equality etc etc

      It really doesn’t surprise me that a President like this would get the Martin ‘ the Contrarian’ Collyer seal of approval. But you know the old saying – birds of a xenophobic , intolerant and mysogynistic feather flock together.

  4. Where is the seal of approval?

    Pointing out the facts is certainly not approval. Start at the wrong place and you end up going in the wrong direction, straight to fabrication, pavlova.

    • How is predicting 6 more years of Trumpton stack with pointing out facts?
      It is speculation, it cannot by its very nature be a fact as it hasn’t occurred yet.
      But it is very telling with regards to your opinion of the orange man child.

  5. Back to the substance, regarding Claire V Rebecca. Well, if that was the best the JC “replacement” can do then Labour have another problem. I did watch this and until Rebecca starts to be able to operate off a pre-prepared script she will continue to find she is brushed aside by someone who knows her brief and is confident to debate from that knowledge.

    • Splutter – Martin you did read Ms Perry’s platitudes and Ms Long Bailey’s sensible comments on them didn’t you?

      I am starting to think that, as Ms P is clearly not thick and yet she’s parroting party lines that she must know don’t stand up to scrutiny, she must believe that this pandering to the idiot tendency of the party is going to help her in a bid for the leadership.

  6. Problems with the eyesight again, refracktion? I try and look at all sources, and repeat “I did watch this”. (Live, and in full.) Perhaps you should do the same, but I suspect you were too busy adding to the carbon footprint, and now have to rely on edited highlights. Maybe you even believe MOTD gives the whole picture regarding a footy match. Figures.

  7. This is terrifying how the government is so under the spell of the oil and gas companies.
    There is no safe fracking and there is noway to make it safe.
    The regulations are wanting. very needy, as they can’t afford proper regulation. They can not afford to pay experts to monitor this industry or the time?
    This comes from the community it lands upon.
    There is no safe rules that this industry follows. They cover up accidents and do not report potential fire risks on site.
    There is no proper regulation. They can not even sort their mud waste properly, lay a membrane properly, or build platforms on the pad properly. Or stop the pad flooding into the surface water.
    There is no consideration of climate change in any documents feeding in to this tyranny.
    The planning documents say “insignificant” to “no data available”, in the area.
    e.g. Flooding is insignificant. we had very little flood data on the South Fylde Coast due to it being a back water.There was no money for it.
    If it was not for the public watching and monitoring 24/7 they would just sail on with accident after accident as they would not of been visited by regulators other than arranged meetings.
    The industry also monitor its self. Which equates to no regulation at all.
    As was proved when they caused the earthquake and did not notify then they decided to do it again? Caused another earthquake. This industry did not even say anything for 6 months about it and only owed up a year later.
    My question to the Preese Hall accident and earthquake is, if they wanted to protect us why did they stop monitoring this site after it was returned to half a field and a pond. The pond arrived due to the activity on the site and most of the flood plane was affected with increased surface water flows and is now affected again in the PNR area.
    I can not see how methane is better for us than CO2 for climate change? Is methane not more damaging than CO2? The truck movement alone increase CO2.
    But I will not go into how much disruption they cause to your area. for another time.,
    There are no emergency plans for us locals.
    There is no timely regulation or response to incidents.
    There is no safe fracking industry. Not even in England compared to the rest of the world.
    The oil and gas industry have the worse HSE controls and the worst accidents in the world.(FACT)

    We had alternative energy here. We have sun, and wind and developing tidal platforms that produce electric 24/7. This was our future and in our local plans. We were going green and going to put cycle paths through our beautiful countryside. Plant trees and change the way we heated our houses. It was part of what we were looking forward to.

    Now this fracking pad built on the upper feed of our flood plain is already affecting the surface water course.
    We have already had increased flooding.
    But its OK peoples.” FLOODING IS INSIGNIFICANT”, according to this industry. That’s because they affect surface waters fist.
    Their lies are ever in the ears of the government, as the oil and gas men are the government advisers. Wake up.

    • Netty
      That is quite a comprehensive comment.
      Re the assertion that the oil and gas industry have the worst HSE controls and accidents in the world, you say this is a fact. I would disagree. But happy to view any information on the matter.

      In the UK, Agriculture comes out at the top of the list for accidents, while social,work causes most absence from work. Data can be seen on the HSE executive portal under 2017 Statistics. Always an interesting read.

      Of course, high hazard industries such as oil and gas / chemical industry / Dams / Nuclear and mining need appropriate regulation, and are more likely to be in the news if something goes wrong.

      Wikipedia has a list of industrial disasters which is worth perusing.

      Re emergence plans, as noted on here ad infinitude, Your council would disagree. So maybe you have never had any evacuation plans for a disaster in Lancashire, and now that includes 2 wells being fracked, but unlikely.

    • No Martin it’s your scattergun approach to posting that is the issue, You spray your opinions and opinionated beliefs far and wide across these page like a diarrhoea sufferer in a public toilet.

      You make sweeping BS statements which you claim to be facts and you flip flop more than an acrobat. When you are called out on your nonsense you claim others were at fault for not grasping your tangential grip on reality.

      Also you appear to be unable to work a B.B. If you wish to reply to a persons post do just that, reply directly to them. Don’t add a new reply further down a thread as that doesn’t alert your fellow correspondent that you have put your foot in your mouth again and is the height of poor manners. But it is standard MC behaviour.

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