Life must be made difficult for oil and gas companies that increase – or fail to reduce – carbon emissions, Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners have argued.
Barbara Richardson, of Frack Free Lancashire, told a climate change meeting in Birmingham:
“Extracting oil and gas is still big business and it will continue unless we stop it.
“We must make life difficult for the polluters by penalising those who fail to reduce, or worse still, increase our carbon emissions.”
Representing the group which has campaigned against Cuadrilla’s fracking operations near Blackpool, Ms Richardson called on government to stop listening to the industry’s lobbyists and to scrap tax breaks for oil and gas companies:
“Fracking is a whole new dirty fossil fuel industry which, if allowed to happen, will impact on our ability to meet our climate change targets and will also detract from investment in green, renewable and sustainable forms of energy.
“We call for a complete ban on fracking, and all other forms of fossil fuel extraction, both in the UK and overseas.”
She also warned that loopholes allow the oil and gas industry to evade the moratorium on fracking in England, threatening efforts to tackle climate change:
“At present, there is a national moratorium on fracking but don’t be fooled; there are many ways round this for the oil and gas industry.”
The moratorium was imposed by the UK government in November 2019 on the advice of the Oil & Gas Authority following earth tremors caused by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
It applies only to associated hydraulic fracturing – defined in the 2015 Infrastructure Act as the injection into shale of 1,000 m3 of fluid at each fracking stage or 10,000 m3 in total.
Ms Richardson said oil and gas companies could carry out fracking, despite the moratorium, by using different stimulation techniques, such as acidisation, or by using lower volumes of fracking fluid.
After the meeting, organised by the Labour leadership contender, Sir Keir Starmer, Ms Richardson said:
“It was really important for Frack Free Lancashire to have a voice on behalf of all those opposed to fracking, and all other forms of fossil fuel extraction, with the possible future leader of the Labour party and especially with the UN COP26 climate talks taking place later this year in Glasgow. I believe our demands were well received”.
Two other Frack Free Lancashire members, Nick Danby and Gillian Kelly, also attended the event.
Mr Danby said:
“This was a welcome opportunity to meet with one of the Labour party leadership candidates. We were able to discuss a range of environmental issues and, in particular, the urgent need for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable”.
Ms Kelly said:
“Listening to the excellent and well-informed speakers on the panel it was evident that this is the year, and this is the moment, for radical action. The possible next Labour leader, Keir Starmer, appeared to get this and prepared to undertake that radical action”.
Keir Starmer has called for a new green deal “hardwired into every level of government, from Whitehall departments to local councils”. This would, he said, mean good jobs in new green industries, more power and ownership over local decisions, cleaner air and warmer, more secure homes.
Writing in the Guardian, he said:
“We have the capacity, imagination and resources to radically, democratically and fairly decarbonise our economy and repair the natural world. Yet under the Tories the pace of carbon reduction is slowing down. Emissions fell by only 2.1% in 2018, less than half the average of the preceding five years.”