Fracking industry fringe event at Labour Party Conference October 2nd

Hopefully opponents of fracking will be present at (or at least outside) a Shale Gas Industry fringe event at the Labour Party Conference tomorrow, to make sure Labour party members who attend this event hear the facts about fracking.

Industry speakers will be making sales pitches for shale gas extraction and use – something which the Climate Change Committee has pointed out would be illegal, since it would make it impossible to meet the UK’s legally binding carbon emissions targets.

Dr Claire-Curtis Thomas, CEO of the Institution of Gas Engineers & Manufacturers (IGEM), Huw Clarke of Cuadrilla Services Ltd and John Baldwin of CNG Services Ltd will present their spiels at IGEM’s shale gas-themed fringe event at the Midland Hotel – Royce Suite, 16 Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS, at 12.30pm on Tuesday 2nd October 12.30pm. The IGEM website invites us to call 01509 678164 or 07904 633037 or email Matthew@igem.org.uk for further details.

According to the IGEM website,

Shadow Cabinet members, Labour MPs and key industry stakeholders will assemble for information, developments, barriers and concerns around UK Shale gas development.

Obviously these shale gas industry speakers are hoping to persuade the Labour Party that fracking is ok and something a Labour government should support.

The fracking industry already operates a revolving door with the Coalition government, that sees corporate employees and government advisory group members changing roles in a kind of corrupt barn dance, while Government fracking advisers being paid by the fracking industry

Let’s hope that a Labour government would refuse this kind of corruption.

So who are these Fringe Event speakers?

Caudrilla fracking rig, Lancashire-photo by Bristol Rising Tide

Cuadrilla Services Ltd has been fracking in Lancashire  and claims that there are 5.6tn cubic metres of gas in its Lancashire licence area – more than all the previously identified UK gas reserves. One sizable fly in their ointment is that, in order to prevent climate change from worsening, most of the UK’s and the world’s fossil fuel reserves are going to have to stay in the ground.

CNG Services describes itself as a company that “ provides design, consultancy and project management services in relation to biomethane to grid and natural gas”.

Of the three gas industry speakers, IGEM (which describes itself as “a professional body for gas professionals”) will probably come across as the good cop in a good cop/bad cop routine, given its position that the UK needs standards relating to shale gas and its extraction processes. IGEM advocates that fracking companies need to develop corporate social responsibility programmes geared to the local communities where fracking is to happen, with special emphasis on environmental initiatives.

All three shale gas industry speakers will doubtless try and dress up their advocacy of shale gas in terms designed to appeal to the Labour Party – eg by:

  • advocating the use of taxes on shale gas to pay for home insulation and the development of renewable energy generation
  • claiming that exploitation of Lancashire’s shale gas will create lots of jobs in the area
  • stating that fracking will improve the UK’s energy security
  • making out that UK shale gas is a cheap source of energy

Facts about fracking

Facts about fracking are:

  • we don’t need it
  • it’s highly polluting
  • exploitation of shale gas will break the UK’s legally-binding carbon reduction targets
  • it’s unlikely to improve the UK’s energy security, according to a parliamentary report on shale gas 
  • The Financial Times reports that UK shale won’t be a cheap source of gas

We don’t need it – there are lots of feasible options to replace fossil fuel energy generation and space heating with renewables and insulation. And although renewables are expensive, so are fossil fuels – particularly when you count the massive public subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation, and then add the costs of the damage from climate change, which the fossil fuel industries are causing.

A lot of the damage can’t even be costed – you can’t put a price on biodiversity and people’s lives, no matter what the insurance industry and the advocates of pricing “ecosystem services” say. It’s estimated that climate change is already killing around 300K people/ year.

But increasing renewables threatens the future and profitability of the gas industry. Hence their lobbying of Labour Party politicians.

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