As Secretary of State considers fracking consent, study shows climate safety and gas is incompatible

A new study shows that climate safety and continued gas use is incompatible because Europe can afford only 9 more years of fossil fuels for energy at current rates.
  07 Nov 2017    |      3 min

The folly of starting up a new fossil fuel industry in England by allowing fracking is emphasised by a new report released today (Tuesday 7 November). It shows that Europe needs to urgently get off gas to play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to internationally agreed levels. The report comes as Energy Secretary Greg Clark is due to decide whether or not to approve fracking in North Yorkshire.

The new study, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Teesside University, shows that EU countries can afford just nine more years of burning gas and other fossil fuels at the current rate before they will have exhausted their share of the earth’s remaining carbon budget for a maximum temperature rise of 2°C. Even with a managed phase-out, fossil fuels including natural gas can have no substantial role beyond 2035 in an EU energy system compatible with 2°C.

Under the terms of the Paris climate agreement, the EU has committed to limit global warming to ‘well below2°C’ and to ‘pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’. [1] For 1.5°C, gas and other fossil fuels would need to be phased-out even faster.

Because of the high levels of both CO2 and methane emissions throughout the gas lifecycle, the authors conclude that, “there is categorically no role for bringing additional fossil fuel reserves, including gas, into production” and that, ‘’an urgent programme to phase out existing natural gas and other fossil fuel use across the EU is an imperative.’’

Friends of the Earth fracking campaigner, Rose Dickinson, said:

“This report is stark: Europe needs to cut gas use fast to play its part in avoiding catastrophic climate change. The UK also has a key role to play, and starting up a whole new fossil fuel industry in England would make this much harder. It’s another compelling reason why Energy Secretary Greg Clark must not allow fracking to go ahead in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Rather than get locked into more fossil fuels, we must prioritise energy saving and renewable energy – that’s the only way to deal with the climate crisis”.

Co-author of the report Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said:

"If the EU is to transform its energy system to align with the Paris temperature and equity commitments, it cannot continue with business as usual and must instead initiate a rapid phase out of all fossil fuels including natural gas. This needs to begin now and be complete within the coming two decades.”

For the next two weeks, negotiators from around the world are meeting in Bonn, Germany for the United Nations climate talks. Talks will focus on agreeing the ‘rule book’ for implementation of the Paris Agreement.


[1] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2015) Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 21st Conference of the Parties. United Nations: