UN committee urges UK government to ban fracking

180912 100 Women Protest2

100 Women rally in Parliament Square, London, 12 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A committee of the United Nations has recommended the UK government consider a complete ban on fracking.

The call follows an appeal by a group of academics, human rights campaigners and environmentalists to a meeting last month of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

DrillOrDrop reported that the actor and UN human rights champion, Amber Heard, was among the group which called for the ban to protect the health of women in the UK.

Other signatories to the group’s letter included the fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and Wenonah Haunter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe.

CEDAW responded last week with a recommendation that the UK government should:

“Review its policy on fracking and its impact on the rights of women and girls, and consider introducing a comprehensive and complete ban on fracking;”

The report of the meeting concluded:

“while the Committee commends the measures taken in Wales and Scotland to halt the practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract fossil fuels, known as fracking, it is concerned that women in rural areas in other territories of the State party are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of fracking, including exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals, environmental pollution, and climate change.”

Jennifer Robinson, the human rights barrister with Doughty Street Chambers, said today:

 “We welcome CEDAW’s recognition that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by the harmful environmental and climate change impacts of fracking and its recommendation that the UK consider a comprehensive ban on fracking. Climate change is a gender issue and the UK must treat it as such.”,

Wenonah Hauter said:

“This UN committee is rightly taking the harmful impacts of fracking seriously, and calling on the United Kingdom to strongly consider ban fracking entirely.

“There is a wealth of scientific evidence showing that women are particularly at risk from this dangerous form of drilling. Fracking creates unacceptable public health risks, threatens clean drinking water, and deepens our global climate crisis. This report is one more sign that there is an urgent need to ban fracking anywhere and everywhere.”

CEDAW took up the issue of UK fracking in summer 2018 when it asked the UK government to provide information on the measures being taken to mitigate and address the health and environmental impacts

The government responded in November 2018, writing that it has “a robust regulatory system” and ”tough regulations in place to ensure on-site safety, prevent water contamination, and mitigate seismic activity and air pollution.”

This was strongly disputed by the letter signatories, who also included Talk Fracking, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Frack Free United, Concerned Health Professionals UK, the National Union of Students and academics Dr Damien Short of the Human Rights Consortium and Professor Peter Strachan of Robert Gordon University.

DrillOrDrop asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the government’s Equalities Office to comment on CEDAW’s recommendation.

A BEIS spokesperson said:

“The UK has an excellent, long-standing reputation for safe oil and gas exploration. Our world class regulations will ensure that shale exploration maintains robust environmental standards and meets the expectations of local communities.”

This post will be updated with any response from the Equalities Office.

Updated on 15 March 2019 with response from BEIS





15 replies »

  1. Why single out the UK? What about the huge amount of fracking that takes place in the US ( and has been very beneficial to their economy)

  2. Yes, very simple.

    Just been reported it will quickly pay off the US trade deficit and its foreign debt.

    Not going to happen-especially as the UN relies very largely upon US funding-which requires a robust economy.

  3. The UK has considered a complete ban on fracking and decided not to ban it in England. Scotland hasn’t banned it either yet apparently.

    Amber Heard (Zombieland??) and Vivienne Westwood, two leading authorities on movies and fashion……..

    Perhaps the fashion industry should be hauled before the UN for targetting women?

  4. Whilst I applaud this Committee’s appeal to the UK government to ban fracking, I am uneasy about this being yet another cause that’s being shoehorned into “Women’s Rights”.

    The perpetuation of fossil fuel usage through fracking will serve only to exacerbate climate change. Do they not think that men and boys will also be affected?

    Air pollution and water contamination will affect everyone, man woman or child, who breathes the air and drinks the water.

    This is about global climate change, it is a truly universal issue.

    If they want to campaign against fracking then fine, but can “Women’s Rights” please be left out of it and confined to issues which affect women and women alone?

    Climate change is not, as Jennifer Robinson says, “a gender issue”. We all have a right to breathe clean, unpolluted air and to drink clean, uncontaminated water. In this, women and girls are not a special demographic group.

    • Perhaps it refers to the hormone disrupting chemicals associated with fracking as I believe women are particularly sensitive to those plus the US studies linked to complicated pregnancies and premature births? And of course climate change is not gender specific but given the gender pay inequalities and that women typically are financially worse off than men, perhaps it relates to women may be less able to afford some of the financial/economic impacts caused by climate change?

    • Of course, you’re right Bob. All are involved and threatened, as is the planet. But do you not think it worthwhile to attack global warming on every front? I strongly believe that the more of us who say, and the more frequently we say “climate change”, and indeed “fracking” to our fellow citizens and especially our elected representatives, the better. Only this will raise universal awareness. So for me, the involvement of all sections and interests in our society can only be a good thing.

  5. Bearing in mind that the Communities Secretary SJ has been declared by a Judicial Review to have acted UNLAWFULLY by overturning Democracy and forcing fracking on Lancashire and that the Environment Agency have confirmed that 19 instances of the release of unknown amounts of unknown emissions of gaseous byproducts of the fracking process have occurred, Gold Standard Monitoring simply does not exist and therefore fracking should be banned forthwith.

  6. Saying “climate change” and “fracking” raises awareness!!??

    That just about sums up the antis approach. Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter when (lets have a sing song and hang our undies on a fence).

    No, it doesn’t raise awareness and now trying to link it to another cause for the gullible, merely demonstrates the any means to an end approach. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Anyway, my electricity about to go off as they connect into the grid at the new housing estate down the road. Suspect the same will apply for the gas in a couple of weeks, like it did for the locals a mile down the road for a further development.

    Both developments within strategic gaps on what was farm land, the latter development passed after a solar farm was built and then used as precedent.

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