Extreme Energy and Climate – A critical review of the UK Government’s policy on unconventional fossil fuels and climate change

By Paul Mobbs, Mobbs’ Environmental Investigations

This report provides a critical analysis of the evidence supporting Government’s recent policy announcements on the issue of ‘extreme energy’ sources (tight oil and gas, shale gas, coalbed methane and underground coal gasification) in the UK – and the implications that the development of these energy sources may have on climate change. Although it has been written as a general review of the evidence concerning extreme energy sources and their impact upon climate, the content of this report is addressed specifically towards the administrative responsibilities of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – and how those responsibilities have been discharged by the ministers of that department.

  • This report provides a commentary on the following: The report for DECC by MacKay and Stone – Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Shale Gas Extraction and Use [1];
  • The Government’s recent response to the MacKay-Stone report [2];
  • Those parts of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s recent report, The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil [3] related to climate change; and
  • As part of all the above, a review of evidence concerning the issue of extreme fossil fuels and climate change, and how this in turn influences the policy and legal framework within which these developments are being promoted.

The purpose of this report is to contrast the evidential position of Government policy with the wider body of evidence available on the relationship between extreme energy sources and climate change. Arguably there is a gap between the Government’s position and the latest research available on this issue. Furthermore, it is arguable that this gap between the available evidence and the case stated in support of Government policy, and the manner in which the Government is pursuing its policies on the promotion of extreme fossil fuel energy sources, is breaching certain provisions of administrative and environmental law.

Section 1 provides a summary of the main points/conclusions of this report. Section 6 contains specific conclusions and recommendations. The report is extensively referenced, and most of these references are available on-line (links are provided in the references section). All references listed in section 7 are identified in the footnotes on each page within square brackets. Unpublished background information is provided in the Appendices in section 8.

This report is the second in a series of critical reports examining the evidential basis for Government policy in relation to extreme energy sources in the UK. This report should be read in conjunction with the first report in this series, A critical review of Public Health England’s report – “Review of the Potential Public Health Impacts of Exposures to Chemical and Radioactive Pollutants as a Result of Shale Gas Extraction” [4] Any queries with regard to the content of these reports should be addressed to the author.

Read the full report here:

Extreme Energy & Climate Change – A critical review of the UK Government’s policy on unconventional fossil fuels and climate change

  1. Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Shale Gas Extraction and Use [MacKay 2013]
  2. The Government’s response to the MacKay-Stone report: Potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas extraction and use [DECC 2014]
  3. The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil [EAC 2014]
  4. A critical review of Public Health England’s report [Mobbs 2014]

 

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