The Chancellor’s commitment to shale gas is all fracked up, says CIWEM. George Osborne’s promise of tax breaks for the gas industry must be dropped. The ‘dash for gas’ will come at the expense of investment in renewables and energy efficiency and undermine the nation’s climate change commitments.

In the budget released this week, the Chancellor George Osborne incentivised the domestic shale gas industry while turning a blind eye to the nation’s legally binding carbon commitments. He has also promised financial incentives, or ‘bribes,’ to communities to encourage them to accept fracking operations. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) believes that the government is back-sliding on climate change targets and calls on the Chancellor to re-think his position on shale gas incentives.

Incentivising gas to play a more extensive role in the nation’s energy strategy could lock the nation into expensive fossil fuels if cheap shale gas fails to yield as hoped. Investment in gas infrastructure must not detract from energy efficiency, local combined heat and power, and investment in clean renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, wave and tidal power. To achieve secure and affordable energy long-term, the nation needs greater investment in renewables.

CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says: “The Chancellor’s dangling carrot for the gas industry is a big move in the wrong direction. Regrettably, the budget promotes fossil fuels rather than renewables and will jeopardise commitments to action on climate change. This is another desperate example of a short-termist approach to growing the economy. We should be investing in a sustainable renewable energy infrastructure and not a fossil fuel future.”

In the ‘dash for gas,’ CIWEM warns extreme caution. It calls on the government to ensure that climate change commitments are not lost. It is well known that methane can be emitted from unconventional gas extraction during several steps of the gas production process. Fugitive emissions of methane are a by-product of fracking operations and have a very high global warming potential. Fracking will lock the UK into a fossil fuel future and leave a dangerous legacy to future generations.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as 'fracking,' is a process to access natural gas reserves in shale rock using high volumes of pressurised fluids. CIWEM’s recently published Policy Position Statement ‘Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of Shale in the UK’ is available from:

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