International tribunal recommends worldwide ban on fracking


A panel of judges at an internationally-recognised tribunal has urged the United Nations to ban fracking.

The Permanent People’s Tribunal session on fracking and climate change has concluded that materials and infrastructure used in unconventional oil and gas extraction violate human rights.

In an advisory opinion, the judges said the violations were against rights to life, water, full information and participation and the rights of indigenous people, women and children.

The judges concluded there was “an axis of betrayal between corporations and governments” that allowed the industry to violate human rights.

The industry was also a major contributor to climate change and a threat to local ecosystems, they said.

They called for a UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment to investigate violations of rights by the industry. They also said the activities of transnational companies should be regulated by law.

The judges recommended that individual states should:

  • Recognise in their constitutions the right of citizens to a healthy environment
  • Recognise in law processes such as people’s tribunals and citizens inquiries
  • Consider adopting the Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change
  • Include punitive damages in legal judgements for violations by unconventional oil and gas operators
  • Cease persecution of climate activists and defenders of human rights
  • Decriminalise protests against the unconventional oil and gas industry

The tribunal hearings on fracking and climate change were held in May 2018 and received testimony from across the world.

DrillOrDrop reported last year on the preliminary findings. These concluded that the industry had failed to fulfil its “legal and moral obligations” and governments had failed in their responsibility to regulate the industry.

Permanent People’s Tribunals have no power to compel people to attend hearings, give evidence or to enforce a judgement. But they can be influential. The tribunal on the gas leak at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, led to the adoption of the Charter on Industrial Hazards and Human Rights.

This is the second international organisation in the past month to recommend a fracking ban. Last month, a committee of the United Nations recommended that the UK government halt the process of hydraulic fracturing.

47 replies »

  1. Thanks Ruth,

    The Permanent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) of fracking is a truly independent non government body and is worth investigating.

    They are as Ruth states here, an advisory body but are very influential in the United Nations and often represent the largely unreported groundswell, (an interesting word), of legal and ecological and scientific opinion in many countries and peoples across the Earth, most notably those activities affecting Indigenous peoples, who are often the first to experience the hazards from industrialisation.

    The Judges Final Statement of April 2019 is on the 14th to 18th May 2018 preliminary session as Ruth stated above, and is here:

    Click to access AO-FINAL-3-28-19.pdf

    The conclusions and recommendations reflects human rights to clean water and air, rights to health and freedom from pollution, rights of freedom of movement, rights to protest and action, rights to live without fear of repression and violence, rights to be free from pollution, rights of safety for people in their communities, and rights to preserve their ecology both local and planetary, and as such, is the vital basis for all life on Earth.

    The Summary and the Concluding Remarks expresses everything about what has been discussed here on Drill or Drop and is much more far reaching in its scope, particularly items 1 to 24 of the recommendations to the United Nations.

      • So much bliss created from ignorance!

        DOH-Norways giant OIL fund is easing its investment in fossil fuels because it does not want to have double exposure. In simple terms, it gains its initial value from fossil fuels so then increasingly invests into areas that are less involved in fossil fuels to hedge against market volatility in such selected commodities.

        Just think-UK could do the same if it maximised such home resources!

        Confusion regarding history, economics and how to avoid scoring own goals-a hat trick.

        (Plenty of references to this for those who wish to gain some knowledge. For those who need to be excited, just ignore the full picture.)

        • Duh. Just think. We COULD HAVE had a huge Sovereign Wealth fund in the UK, like Norway’s, if the Tory gov, under Thatcher, hadn’t gone on that huge drive to deregulate and sell of the ‘Crown Jewels’ – major state owned utilities and premium manufacturing assets. Norway’s state ownership of O&G and far-sighted social responsibility policies has left them very well off. Now the tide is turning against FF they’re in a stronger position to recognise that. They’ve been very clever with O&G investments and smart enough to recognize also that there is no future in onshore Fracking in the UK – and have said so.

    • It’s so important that this recommendation is publicised widely but it won’t be easy in the Brexit dominated times!
      I’ve spread it around the political circles requesting urgent action, perhaps all readers should do the same?

  2. The irony is that the pro fossil fools have been investing in an industry which has no momentum, just broken promises and is based on Chinese whispers.

    If and when you get your heads out of the sand and be a bit more innovative and think about future generations instead of the “so long as I’m alright jack” attitude you may see the benefits of investing in renewables.

    • Renewables do not fit the entire energy gap, innovation does not allow to power a plane / cargo truck, cook dinner heat homes on a scale the over populated world requires! You do notice when you buy produces is is sourced globally? It is not sustainable, achievable and certainly in the short term, there will always have to be an energy mix, energy can work in unison but not entirely Renewable! New homes / businesses today are mostly heated using gas, in the UK up to 80%. Government regulations do not state an alternative heat source, say you can add a wood burner?, wood is not sustainable in the long term. Gas is the cleanest, greenest fossil fuel there currently is and will continue to be, just because protesters, activists, fantasists are to stubborn and saying no trying to the use of logic to try to educate the anti’s is like trying to heard cats to a saucer of milk! They are happy for another country to produce it, ship it and allow us to consume it is still causing a degree of climate pollution, but more so it requires to be shipped, as opposed to being produced on site and closer to where it is consumed, this is the Irony! That is a fair Carbon Footprint! The consumption of Gas in the world is ever increasing, whether in the UK or globally, the UK is just a pin prick in the ass of world energy problems. Scotland has the potential to produce all its own energy for homes and businesses as it has 25-32% of the European energy potential being located geographically where it is positioned in the world, with a small populations of 5m people. England and Wales with a population of over 55m has less renewable energy producing potential, and that is where the majority of the population live! Gas is here to stay at least for the next 50 years, until a revolution in a new energy source to replace fossil fuels, to power majority of cars, power airplanes and this is the transition time, its to early in the renewables debate to stop using FF tomorrow or next weeks, we will still be using it in 50 years time! Get over it!

      • Interestingly the current UK government now wants to ban gas in new homes due to climate change commitments. Also the need to do deep retrofit of existing homes and replace gas with heat pumps. This is why people are protesting: the longer states procrastinate, the more expensive and damaging climate change will become. Effectively, it needs to be a cooperative global war effort to mitigate against the worst effects. Read this article for a bit of enlightenment:

        A combination of continuous tide, wave, hydro, along with solar, wind (both onshore and off shore), coupled with battery storage and retrofit (eg Energiesprong) to reduce energy consumption, plus Passivhaus standards (heating requirements reduced by 90%, remaining heating and hot water easily met by renewables ) for all new builds is entirely possible with the political will. Unfortunately both the current US and UK governments are run by short-sighted morons. More gas is not the answer and the UK needs fracking like a hole in the head.

  3. Try reading the article Eli Goth. It is about Fracking, not Gas per se. And Candor is almost undoubtedly remarking on the UK fracking drive.

    “The judges concluded there was “an axis of betrayal between corporations and governments” that allowed the industry to violate human rights.”
    … that’s a fair conclusion. And so long as the US Republican Party remains the political arm of big O&G then I suspect this is one of those strange occasions when Martin could even be right (about the US wanting the UN out). On the other hand administration’s come and go and Congress is now able to keep the GOP in check. Let’s see.

    • PhilipP: What Planet are you on!! Fracking is about Gas per se! Or what the hell are you activists protesting about! Doh…

      USA, USA, USA….? this if I’m not mistaken is the UK!

  4. Really, PhilipP?

    So, the Wall is not being constructed?

    Fracking in USA started after the Democrats were chucked out?

    Yes, some of us could even be right (correct, that is.)

      • Not an activist Eli Goth just a realist. Fracking certainly does not encompass all gas supplies so your argument is simply vexatious and not all that relevant to the main issue at stake here.

        • But you agree PhilipP you use, consume, enjoy and revel in the benefits of the gas and as we are talking fracking (the oul industry). On do you live an entirely not FF existence, if not its a pretty hypocritical stance to take, don’t you think.

          As a realist would like to think that we should do things right, who are you accusing as not doing things right?, the government?, oil and gas operators?, consumers who have never said boo to a goose until a youtube video about US fracking?, i’d like to think we are beyond the leadership of doing what they do. Industry Legislatively we are nothing alike.

          • I did a quick reality check Eli and learned that the amount of UK fracked gas that I currently use is zero. Same applies to all gas users in the UK. Another reality check tells me that nearly all the expertise and plans, projections and speculative models that inform the UK fracking drive stem from the US O&G experience. Additionally that both the original Mitchel gas-field engineers in Texas and the lab-based rock fracture engineers (Cornell and Duke Universities) that pioneered successful studies of shale-gas extraction (using horizontal drilling and slickwater fracking etc) say that the current commercialisation of those techniques is proceeding without sufficient regulation. Furthermore that our (UK) regulations and risk assessments refer largely to American publications and make almost no reference to the voluminous complaints and health/environmental impact studies that have been completed in the recent years.

            The probability that UK drilling and fracking for shale gas will to reinvent the wheel and ignore the US knowledge and experience is zero.

            What has proved different here is the link between fracking and earthquakes, a discovery of PH1, pointing to the fact that the more twisted and faulted strata here matters significantly. The UK’s geology simply doesn’t match the nice flat layer cake strata of the highly productive US shale plays. Meanwhile in the USA they were finding more and more associations between ground injection (to dispose of flowback waste) earthquakes, and have also since made more of the connection between fracking and quakes … even more so in Canada.

            • PhilipP – it is total rubbish to say that the “What has proved different here is the link between fracking and earthquakes, a discovery of PH1” – there are a massive amount of studies that have showed seismicty either the same or slightly higher in north America

              • Judith, total rubbish? I invite you to justify that and will concede only if you can show me an established link made between HVHF and significant seismic events before 2011. The earliest reference I’ve got is in an American paper referring to the English experience at Preese Hall – from the Technical Memorandum12-21-2011 DEPcomm – available from … hager-richter_technicalmemorandum_20111221_hydrofrac.pdf
                From section 4.1 viz:
                “Is it possible that HVHF stimulation could trigger a seismic event on a fault that intersects or is near the WOH NWI? Section 6.13.1 of the RDSGEIS notes that thousands of shale gas wells have undergone HVHF treatment in the US without triggering earthquakes, but the recently released research discussed in Sections 3.4.1 and 3.4.2 of this Technical Memorandum has shown that HVHF stimulation of a shale gas well triggered earthquakes of small magnitude in the UK and likely did so in Oklahoma in 2011. Whether HVHF treatment helped trigger additional seismic events along faults in other gas plays where natural seismic activity occurs has not been proven.”

                While the possibility of induced seismicity had been monitored by sensors quite intensively beforehand you get the impression from that paper that the Preese Hall event prompted more in depth studies and that induced tremors had been regarded as insignificant up to that point (NB the context here is HVHF in shale not the oldest forms of fracking which go back to sticking a ‘torpedo’ in the ground!)

                Again – from 3.4.3 of that paper:
                “The Blackpool earthquakes and probably the Oklahoma earthquakes demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing fluids can reach a nearby fault and can trigger a seismic event. Therefore, the RDSGEIS statement that “The possibility of fluids injected during hydraulic fracturing the Marcellus or Utica Shales reaching a nearby fault and triggering a seismic event are remote for several reasons” is not consistent with recent evidence of HVHF-induced seismic events.”

                • PhillipP- as soon as I get to me hotel I’ll check which have been published – I’ve worked on loads of fields in the USA where fracks have generated massive amounts of microseismicity but I can’t remember if the results have been published as ML 2 events just aren’t that exciting. The majority of seismicity in Oklahoma have nothing to do with fracking fluids hitting faults – they are caused by injection of water froduced from conventional reservoirs into fractured basement. The events at Preese Hall also don’t need to be caused by a preexisting fault – they could quite easily have been caused by new faults

                • That’s an extraordinary statement Judith – about seismic events – “they could quite easily have been caused by new faults”. Are we saying that fracking is capable of creating new faults that are so pre-stressed that they are capable of generating the energy of a 2-3 ML earthquake? (due to rock mass movement) or are you suggesting that new faults are appearing coincidentally for to other reasons around the times of drilling and fracking? That’s an interesting one for the geophysicists.

                • PhillipP, I had a quick search online and found hundreds of papers on seismicity is shale gas plays in the USA – I really don’t know why you had trouble – if you just search for google for “Microseismicity” + “shale” + “name of shale” (e.g. Barnett, Horn River, Haynesville, Eagle Ford, Bakkon etc etc. Maybe you were searching for Earthquake which won’t come up with much because, unlike what Refraktion argues, most seismologists will not call such small events that occurred at Preese Hall earthquakes.

                  Sil, S., Bandhead, B., Sena, A. (2012) Hydraulic Fracturing, Microseismic Magnitudes, and Stress Evolution in the Barnett Shale, Texas, USA. 74th EAGE Conference and Exhibition incorporating EUROPEC 2012
                  Vermylen, J. and Zoback, M.D. (2011) Hydraulic Fracturing, Microseismic Magnitudes, and Stress Evolution in the Barnett Shale, Texas, USA Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE paper 140507
                  Roth., M. and Thompson A. (2009) Fracture Interpretation in the Barnett Shale Using Macro and Microseismic Data (
                  Peake, N., Gabino Castillo, Simon Voisey, Kevin Chesser, Norbert Van de Coevering, Antoine Bouziat, Guy Oliver, Chi Vinh Ly, Rob Mayer*. Lih Kuo. (2014) Unconventional Reservoirs: Integrating Surface Seismic, Microseismic, Mineralogy and Rock Properties in the Haynesville Shale.. URTeC: 1920885

                  In terms of new faults, I’ve not worked on earthquakes but I don’t see any particular reason why the shales at 2.5 – 4km can store up strain energy that is released by the formation of a new fault created during hydraulic fracturing. Just a quick calculation would indicate that a 3ML event would be generated by a new fault in a shale with a slip of only 10 cm (assuming a shear modulus of shale of 15GPa)

                • Do you understanding of the point Judith? Micro-seismic monitoring was not the issue. I already noted that these were studied previously. It was the game changing conclusions reached by the Preese Hall episode that I’m pointing to. Unless you can find US instances of fracking causing ML2-3 level earthquakes prompting the same conclusions (as studies of PH1) – prior to 2011 – then, if anything, you’ve just helped make my point… same as made in the US evaluation mentioned, and by other independent engineers. You might want to check out the seven page list of references too:

                • PhilipP – I’ll try and find what’s published -however I can 100% guarantee I’ve worked on loads of fields where far larger than 2.3Ml has been generated. My partner, who is a geophysicist by background, told me last night that he had very recently worked on Horn River where there we definitely much larger events than 2.3 Ml but didn’t know if they had been published. A key thing with seismicity is whether there has been a case where fracking has induced a tremor that is larger than has occurred naturally. I’ve still not found an example of such a case and in which case the historic seismicity can be used as an indication of the risk in a specific area.

                • PhilipP – there seems to be published data on Horn River ( with Ml >2.3 dating back later than 2011 and where >10,000 m3 of fluid have been injected. I’ve seen data from other plays that are also >2.3 Ml – I’ll try and find out if the data is in the public domain yet. I think one thing that needs to be remembered is that no one has paid too much attention to monitoring microseismicity because seismicity has never caused significant problems in shale gas extraction and it is only relatively recently that operators have recognized the benefits of deploying dense surface and downhole arrays. The fact remains that seismicity associated with shale gas extraction is not a significant issue and is only people who whine on about it are those who are purposefully trying to scare people into objecting to local developments.

    • Oh I did have a valid point to make, PhilipP. Your silly response clearly showed that. (You are not very good at masking the weakness in your arguments. Two ways of dealing with that. Make stronger arguments or don’t highlight someone has negated your argument.)

      But, interesting that you are a realist. So, you really do realise that biting the hand that feeds you means you don’t get fed. That is why UN would be wise to keep away from this, because they will otherwise find their budgets seriously reduced.

      Not sure about the realist bit though. Those Crown Jewels must have included the UK coal industry! Oops. At least she didn’t sell off the gold reserves.

        • Just keep away from poker, PhilipP!

          But as you like your history, try Giggling the Sick Man of Europe. The reality rather than your version.

  5. Well, good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, its Sunday again and it is the 24th Sunday since fracking was resurrected by Cuadrilla and then fell slilent again due to Cuadrilla being unable to operate within the agreed Traffic Light System of .05 ML before they had to cease operations for 18 hours. And now after multiple examples of concealment of the monitoring results and the periods of fracking activities we now know that earthquakes are indeed related directly to fracking activities, which is curious considering the screams of capital leter “contributions” that “fracking does not cause earthquakes! End of!” (please insert your own capital letters)
    And then we read of the attempts to overturn, if not entirely trash the TLS limit and then the moves to make fracking and non fracking activities to be Nationally Significant Infrastructure and Permitted Development, both of which seem to have fallen on stony ground, to coin an appropriate phrase.

    It appears that the prospect of onshore High Pressure High Volume, Unconventional Fracking in the UK has reached an impass.

    The public protest against fracking has now become a national movement, the children have been striking from school and protesting about the lack of any real action on climate change.

    The process of fracking and its related avoidances of the word have reached an all time low in the popularity stakes.

    The truth about the difficulties and operational inadequacies and failures to operate within their own agreed limitations is now common knowledge.

    The operators themselves have proven to be arrogant and dismissive and uncaring of the communities and residents in which that have inserted themselves.

    And most of all they have fast lost any confidence whatsoever from investors and the government are quietly withdrawing their support.

    And now we see that the long awaited Permanent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) of fracking has advised and recommended that fracking activities should cease due to the consequences to human rights of human rights to clean water and air, rights to health and freedom from pollution, rights of freedom of movement, rights to protest and action, rights to live without fear of repression and violence, rights of safety for people in their communities, and rights to preserve their ecology without industrial incursion. There are many interesting points in the report, but most noteable in the recommendations as follows:

    “8. Recommendations
    A) To the United Nations:
    1. That the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME) be
    adopted as soon as possible by the United Nations.
    2. That the methods, present and envisioned for the future, of extracting oil and gas
    from underground, referred to in general as “fracking”, be banned.
    3. That an International Working Group (IWG) be established to develop People’s
    Earth Jurisprudence and publish reports which can be used by legislatures and
    courts around the world. The IWG should include in its work an analysis and
    justification of the right to use civil disobedience including forcible action where
    necessary and morally justified to defend Mother Earth.
    4. That ecocide be given similar recognition as genocide in international law through
    a Universal Declaration from the United Nations.
    5. That the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment be asked to
    investigate the violations of the rights of humans and nature by the UOGE
    6. That, after 41 years of “Guidelines” and “Principles”, the United Nations approve
    as soon as possible the draft legally binding instrument to regulate, in
    international law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business
    B) To the States and sub-state jurisdictions:
    7. That all States and governments at all levels should include in their constitutions a
    recognition of the right of all their citizens to a healthy environment.
    8. That Environmental Law should be recast as Ecological Law to protect the
    planet’s ecosystems.
    9. That concepts and institutions based on humans-only, anthropocentric
    understandings be reformed to allow a broader democracy to be achieved through
    recognition of the right of nature to be represented in any proceedings affecting
    nature and to participate in decision-making through a form of guardianship.
    10. That the People’s Jurisprudence developed in People’s Tribunals, Citizen’s
    Inquiries, and other non-state bodies, by scholars, commentators, indigenous
    communities and other groups, and including the entire informal discourse
    concerning the rights of nature, should be recognized as a legitimate normative
    process and recognized as part of emerging international law.
    11. That State and sub-state jurisdictions should consider adopting the Declaration on
    Human Rights and Climate Change and making its standards and provisions part
    of public policy at all levels.
    12. That State and sub-state jurisdictions should adopt the UDRME in their
    constitutions and legislation.
    13. That State and sub-state jurisdictions guarantee to all citizens access to justice in
    environmental matters, including the timely access to all relevant information, the
    opportunity to prepare and participate in decision-making procedures, particularly
    those directly affected by projects that may negatively affect their rights or those
    of the environment; and that free prior informed consent according to
    international standards and obligations be guaranteed when activities that threaten
    nature, human rights and communities are under consideration for approval.
    14. That Courts throughout the world recognize the rights of nature as proclaimed in
    the UDRME, the Ecuadorian Constitution, Bolivian legislation and similar
    legislation in other jurisdictions, and use these instruments and concepts as
    precedents for implementation and protection of such rights.
    15. That in all legal judgements against UOGE operatives for violations of the rights
    of people, communities and nature, punitive damages be included.
    16. That an International Working Group be established to study and report on the
    potential contribution that self-determining modes of governance in a federated
    system of bioregions could make to safeguarding the rights of nature, human
    rights and communities, as well as enriching democracy.
    17. That governments cease persecution of climate activists, defenders of human
    rights and those of nature, take immediate and effective steps to end impunity for
    the perpetrators of such persecution and protect the defenders from the
    persecution they now suffer from states and corporations.
    18. That protests and demonstrations against the operations of the UOGE industry
    and the violations of human and nature’s rights by the industry should be
    C) To the peoples and communities that are mobilized in defense of nature:
    19. That a Clearing House on the UOGE industry be established to gather and publish
    data from around the world on such matters, inter alia, as rights violations by the
    industry, actions or inactions by governments to permit/enable or restrict such
    activity; resistance actions by local organizations and “law enforcement”
    20. That human and nature’s rights activists/defenders should be encouraged to
    oppose the UOGE industry using tactics justifiable in moral terms, supported by
    forms of international solidarity from the climate activist community.
    21. That human and nature’s rights activists/defenders should promote and support
    litigation before national courts regarding the violation of human rights against
    those responsible for aggravating climate change or against those who, should
    they do so, do not adopt the necessary measures to deal with it.
    22. That an International Conference on Action for Climate Change and Against
    Extractivism be organized to link groups resisting the violations and depredations
    of the UOGE industry with others resisting extractivist industries in order to plan
    and coordinate actions and support, including joint and solidarity actions.
    23. That a Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on UOGE be established in those regions
    where the industry is operating with the task of monitoring and exposing the
    violations of the industry and developing support for the resistance to the
    operations of the industry.
    24. That local community organizations and activist groups be encouraged to
    establish Local People’s Tribunals (LPT) or Local Citizen’s Commissions (LCC) to
    focus resistance to granting permits for UOGE industries to operate in a community
    and to expose violations of the rights of people, communities and nature by existing
    UOGE operations.”

    Have a great Sunday with family and friends and perhaps we will now begin to see the end of the onshore fracking attempts in the UK and then perhaps with a change of government to whatever, perhaps an emergency all party coalition, and then we can at last begin the address the real action of reversing out present collaps into climate change anarchy and be able to provide a viable liveable future for ourselves, our children and all future generations, it is after all, the only intelligent way ahead.

  6. David Kesteven talking about the March 15th school strike on the failure of government to address the climate change situation.
    Noteably the concentration of the media to concentrate on tragedy, disaster, murder and hatred, not to mention brexit rather than report that a unique and far reaching fact that 1.2 million children went on strike over climate change in 123 countries.

    it is noteable that Claire Perry refused to talk to the childrens representative on the day.

    “At the Dept for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy some youngsters tried to deliver a letter to the Minister, Claire Perry, but were refused admission by security who then locked the doors. The letter requested that the Minister honour an original agreement to meet Extinction Rebellion for talks, which she later cancelled, citing a ‘heavily committed’ schedule.”

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