Drop support for fracking to protect climate, urge academics

pnr 180828 fence slider

Fencing outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site, 18 August 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

Twenty-nine academics have called on governments and scientists to withdraw their support for fracking because of its climate change impacts.

Writing to this morning’s Times newspaper, they say climate change is already causing extreme weather events and driving accelerated melting of ice sheets and glaciers.

The letter says a major cause is burning fossil fuels and rising methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction, particularly fracking.

This coincides with what the signatories say is a “new era of cheap, clean renewable energy and storage”.

190227 The Times

Letter to The Times newspaper, 27 February 2019

Effect of fracking on climate change, The Times, 27 February 2019 (pdf)

The letter asks:

“Is it not time that our leaders and scientific community withdrew their support for fracking and engaged in the challenge of transforming our society to meet this existential challenge?”

190217 signatories

Signatories of the letter to The Times, 27 February 2019

The signatories include 12 professors attached to universities in the UK, Australia and the UK.

Some are well-known critics of fracking, including Emeritus Professor David Smythe, of Glasgow University, Professor Robert Howarth, of Cornell University and Emeritus Professor Nick Cowern, of Newcastle University.

The list also includes social entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett, who runs a solar energy company, and the environmentalist, Sir Jonathan Porritt.

Today’s letter has been supported by the campaign network, Frack Free United. It said the UK government’s backing for fracking would “only serve to increase dangerous climate-changing emissions.

A spokesperson said:

“The global climate change breakdown we currently face requires urgent action and a need to divest from fossil fuels. Fracking is not a ‘bridge’ to a carbon-neutral future: it is yet another fossil fuel cheque that our climate cannot afford to cash. We are in a climate crisis and the UK government should declare it as one.”

Earlier this month, a group of geoscientists, many with links to the oil and gas industry joined calls for a review of the rules on fracking-induced seismicity.

117 replies »

  1. Jack – you post a lot of links / stuff on here. Please advise how the world is going to stop using hydrocarbons, what they will be replaced with and your schedule for this.

    • ‘ how the world is going to stop using hydrocarbons, what they will be replaced with’ you already know this, so stop wasting digital ink…..

      • Sorry Sherwulfe I don’t know this, not in the short term anyway. If I did I would be very wealthy. All forecasts show increasing global use of fossil fuels, gas through mid 2040’s and oil through late 2030’s. Coal is anyone’s guess. Post 2050 we may see a rapid decline in fossil fuel demand but only if viable alternatives are developed.

        So perhaps Jack can let us know his “plan”? Or are you also Jack Sherwulfe?


      Although a lot of the answers can easily be thought of by children, I fear that political will in the UK and around the world to impose such things, will only be there when it’s to late .

      There is no instant fix to completely eliminating the use of all fossil fuels, or the use of them by a growing population of people, but there are many ways in which we can greatly reduce the demand and eliminate the need for some of the scrape the bottom of the barrel processes, like Fracking.

      I would say a good way to start would be to ,

      ( 1 ) The UK has some of the most poorly insulated homes in Europe…… Maybe if money from white elephant projects and wars was diverted in to a program of bringing our old housing stock and businesses up in to the 21st century regarding insulation and energy efficiency , that would reduce our energy demand .

      ( 2 ) Fines for businesses who waste energy leaving lights burning through the night whilst empty.

      ( 3 ) Switching of motorway lighting during certain hours .

      ( 4 ) The rationing of energy , maybe with stamps that can be bought and sold electronically by the people, who can then choose to use a less or more . The cash incentive is always a good way to make people use less, it would also heavily penalise people who want to use more ……… I say this after reading in the paper that one well known celebrity was using £25,000 a year in Gas and Electricity, burning the energy all year round even though she wasn’t living in the property a lot of the time . Why should the rich be allowed to squander and waste the world’s resources because they can afford to ?

      ( 5 ) Generate as much energy as possible from renewable sources .

      ( 6 ) Complete phase out of the high polluting and gas guzzling vehicles for more energy efficient, less polluting vehicles …….

      ( 7 ) Making plastic is resource and energy intensive…….. Eliminate where possible, all plastic packaging. Back in the old days you bought things like fruit, veg and many other items from the shops and put them straight in to your reusable bag. ( There was very little plastic packaging years ago. )

      ABOVE are just a few ideas .

      I understand that Fossil Fuels will continue to play a piviting role in our energy supply and society for the forseeable future and I accept that , but we have to be more responsible as to how we source and use energy.

      Careful management of resources will greatly drive down demand and reduce the need to turn our beautiful country in to an industrialised pin cushion.

      It will also extinguish our increasingly frantic desperation for Oil and Gas.

      • Jack if the UK does everything you wish for please explain how this impacts on global climate change? UK can go to zero emissions tomorrow and it will make no difference to global climate change but will kill our economy, result in blackouts and a lot of us will get cold in the winter. And be unable to cook food…..

        And please, please don’t state that we should lead by example (from the Sherwulfe school of fantasy)…

        • No Paul, it won’t destroy the economy, just change it, just as industrialization changed the economy before it, tipping wealth into the few at the expense of the many; this in itself is no longer sustainable.

          Don’t be afraid of reality; you can mock those of us who are working for a fairer future, but your response is just words; action is what we do to make a difference whilst the fracking dinosaurs are just about to be hit by the proverbial asteroid yet again….

          Stop wasting gas to make electricity; you know it makes sense 🙂

          And if you really believe this ‘result in blackouts and a lot of us will get cold in the winter. And be unable to cook food….’ then book yourself onto this….

          • See reply to Jack Sherwulfe (by the way do you have a name?). You should listen to people who have extensive experience in many countries overseas including those with very large expanding populations who aspire to what we have (not you but the majority of the developed world). Try and stop them.

          • Whoops must be the Highland Park – can’t spell my name!

            See reply to Jack – Sherwulfe (by the way do you have a name?). You should listen to people who have extensive experience in many countries overseas including those with very large expanding populations who aspire to what we have (not you but the majority of the developed world). Try and stop them.


    I never said such a change was going to be easy, but people have to accept the good, easy times on this planet are now over .

    In what has been a very wastefull use of our resources , where we have just taken what we want with little regard fur the future or the enviournmemtal impacts.

    The enviournmental two fingers approach has kept cost for industries low and it has kept the price of goods low for consumers , which people have wanted . So collectively we are ALL responsible for the trashing of the planet . That will have to change , increasingly we will have to be a more ” make do and mend ” society instead of a ” throw away and buy new “…. That’s of course if you want your grandchildren to have a planet worth living on .

    PAUL ,as far as crashing the economy goes , the changes I had suggested would not be responsible for that .

    IF as they say , we had ” made hay when the sun shined ” we could of implemented great changes decades ago and become light years ahead of other economies with the savings made in the UK from being more energy efficient . This would of in turn, boosted UK companies profits and kept more money in the pockets of individuals, giving them more spending power ..

    ALSO exporting MORE of our large reserverves of North Sea gas , instead of burning it ourselves would of brought in vast amounts of revenue .

    There is also another way you can look at this, there has been vast fortunes of wealth in the UK in our own lifetimes, in such places like Trafford Park in the North West of England . Such places have now gone from being the Engineering exporting hub of the world employing 10s of thousand of people in well paid jobs , to a large container storage depot employing a handful of people in low paid menial jobs.

    Successive governments have sold of to foreign nationals/countries our blue chip companies and allowed great companies to wind down and/or relocate abroad .

    COULD this be the reason why our economy may crash ?????

    If our economy can’t NOW weather the financial cost of becoming an environmentally better place. Which of course will benefit us all with cleaner air and an overall better , safer enviournment to live in, then we really are up the creek without a paddle .

    A lot of changes will have to be made throughout the world, including population control and changes to agriculture , but we can’t just turn our back on the nightmare prospect of catastrophic, runaway climate change with the attitude of, well other countries are not committed so why should we be .

    It’s clear you have not read my last post properly PAUL , my suggestions would not give one single blackout in the UK …….. They would only make our country us a more energy efficient cleaner , healthier place to live and if we were to evaluate that in to our public finances equation . That on its own would take a massive financial burden of the NHS which could equate to many £ billions annually.

    • Sorry Jack – you just confirmed what I said. You are focused on the UK and living in La La land. Whatever happens here makes no difference globally. How does the UK unilaterally become “an environmentally better place”?

      Export our North Sea gas for someone else to use while we decline or switch to very expensive alternatives? Come on, think about it?

      There are several posters on this BB who have no idea how the real world works. Not sure how you have all survived so far or what you have done for a living or perhaps done nothing paid no tax etc …..

      Vast fortunes of wealth in the UK were built on the Industrial Revolution which if you recall was based on coal and pollution.

      Good luck.


    YOU are not getting the picture .

    Exporting the gas instead of burning it ourselves would of brought in vast amounts of revenue …. That money could of been spent on UK wide energy saving programs , which long term and you have to think long term here, would of put us in a much more financial stable position NOW.

    NOW with energy companies in the UK increasingly becoming foreign owned , UK citizens are watching the money from their ever increasing energy bills disappear out of the country …

    The expensive alternatives that you talk about , well there are a number of possible options in the clean energy toolbox . Would ANY of them be as expensive as FRACKING ??????

    I have posted on this very website previously, a number of LINKS to leading financial webpages that show how fracking in the USA is nothing more than one great ponzi scheme , that is kept afloat with a constant influx of zero interest rate money from financial institutes and the constant promise of gold at the end of the rainbow to gullible , ordinary, private, individual investors ……There has been an endless number of huge bankruptcies in the US Oil a nd Gas industry and that’s in a country with almost zero regulations .

    HOW possibly would that industry ever hope to get of the ground over here, in a country with much stronger regulations which is far more densely populated .

    We all know who will eventually pick up the tab for all that borrowing in the US . The good old, hard pressed American tax payer and they will also pick up the tab for the on- going costs of abandoned wells

    For anyone wanting to read about that , don’t just take my word for it, Google the words ” Fracking Ponzi ” read it for yourself.

    Now do you want to see that duplicated over here PAUL ????

    Coal powered the industrial revolution, but men and steel built machines that were exported all over the world in Trafford Park , Manchester and we didn’t make cheap throw away junk .. The machines we built lasted a lifetime not like a lot of this foreign made junk that we now import ……. Machines that last, now there’s an energy saving , enviournmently friendly thing .

    OK even if we hadn’t of gone down the exporting our gas route , our mentality to saving energy has been abysmal, especially when energy was cheap and plentiful. I can think, straight of the top of my head many ways in which we as a nation have squandered our energy supplies over the last half a century, as I’m sure you can.

    AS far as the real world goes as you say , people that do live in the real world are now experiencing the start of extreme swings in the climate and counting the cost of the in lives and £s.

    I wonder what the human and financial cost will be over the next couple of days with the current storm FREYA.

    UK weather forecast: Storm Freya sparks DANGER TO LIFE warning from 80mph winds TODAY


    If we want these types of swing in weather patterns to continue and become more extreme in intensity, let’s continue to burn, burn , burn those fossil fuels . BUT in doing so I would like someone from the Oil and Gas industry to quantify extreme climate change damage costs annually and on a national basis , so that we as a people can way up if our continued use of fossil fuels is worth it .

      • Ha ha Jack. Caroline Lucas. The Greens can’t even run Brighton… One MP, even the LibDems have more.

        Same newspaper this morning:


        “Emissions dropped for the sixth year running in 2018, to 361m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, a level last seen in the late 19th century.

        But there are signs the country’s recent period of rapid progress is drawing to a close. The estimated 1.5% decline last year was considerably smaller than the 3.2% fall in 2017 and the 8.7% drop in 2014: the biggest in recent years.”

        “The Carbon Brief figures show oil and gas use – primarily used for vehicles, power and heating – have barely changed over the past few years. Transport has become the biggest single polluting sector, overtaking energy.”

        Have you bought your electric car yet Jack? A friend of mine has a Tesla with “300 mile range”. When he checked with Tesla about his journey from Aberdeen to Kendal they told him he would have to recharge twice at an hour a charge on the way down in order to get there. Distance = 300 miles. Brilliant.

        • Keep shouting the kings clothes are magnificent Paul; in the meantime those who see his naked body say it how it is….

          Jack, it’s pointless trying to guide these call centre agents; they only listen to the scriptwriter…

          And yes, I do have a name, it’s Sherwulfe 🙂


    I can agree that the burning of Fossil fuels for transport has now become a major issue and one which may be underestimated/dumbed down in the data .

    I know of one place where the EA had rubber stamped an incinerator in an area with illegally high air pollution levels. The EA were shown the air quality data from testing that has been privately done by the Breath Clean Air Group in Davyhulme , Manchester.

    Instead of testing the air quality in that particular area for themselves , they instead decided to rely on data from monitoring stations far away in green and pleasant pastures . ( In fact they might as well of been on the Moon and planet Mars.) So I’m quite aware how data can be tweaked to suit an agenda .

    For more information , please see the Breath Clean Air Group website .

    Many other people must now be questioning that data aswell, as they with increasingly regularity, sit stationary on three lane motorways with their eyes and throats stinging throughout the day .

    They also must be worried when they are warned by adverts that are on the television right now, that one in two people in their lifetimes will get Cancer .

    As far as transport goes , I walk a lot of the time . Luckily it’s something I enjoy . With my limited use of the motor vehicle, a Tesla would be ideal for me . Unfortunately at the current price, they are out of my financial budget . New innovations usually are, remember the price of a VHS recorder when they first came out ????? They were way out of reach of the ordinary person . I’m sure though that as time goes by, the price of Tesla cars will reduce and the range improve.

    As a point of interest , pollution from vehicles is becoming such a problem in Manchester, they are looking at charging polluting commercially used vehicles within the next five years for entry in to the city .

    It may be so that greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation have dropped over the last six years , but do we really want to open up and embrace fracking as a new source of energy ????? Let’s not forget that it has been estimated that thousands of wells would be needed to produce 50% of our energy needs and when you take note of the leaks highlighted on this very website from Cuadrillas PNR site of the very powerful Methane gas . It really seems like a no brainer that this energy source should be kicked in to the long grass .

    More than 6,000 fracking wells needed in UK to halve gas imports, study says


    [Typos corrected at poster’s request]

    • Jack – I have said many times that shale gas production in the UK will not happen. My disagreement with you all is the reasons why. It will not happen because of surface planning issues, traffic, roads etc. It will not be stopped due to any subsurface or “fugitive emissions” issues as a lot of antis (Nimbys) on this site keep going on about.

      • PAUL TRESTO,

        Sorry about not picking up on that. Sometimes the message is lost in the text, especially when we both put so much of it down.

        Although we will have to agree to disagree on some things , maybe we are aligned a little more than I first thought .

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