Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Why fracking is a Red Line on Climate Change

 My speech to the Draw The Line on Fracking rally in Manchester 6th July 2016 

Well, we never said it would be easy.

When we all gathered by the Arch de Triumph in December last year, wondering just how the French riot police would react to the demonstration that had tried to ban actually happening, we knew it wasn't going to be easy.

The Paris Agreement had been signed the day before. The newspapers were reporting the planet had been saved.

The action was to highlight the five Red Lines that we would not compromise on in the defence of the climate.

They were:

COMPLIANCE. The world needed to do what it promised now. Not in 2020 when the agreement becomes law, or 2025 when it is first reviewed, but now.

JUSTICE. Those worst affected must be compensated by those that polluted most.

FINANCE. The rich countries must pay the poor countries so they can develop without fossil fuels.

EQUITY. We must all have the same right to emit, rich or poor.

And finally an immediate, drastic and urgent cut in EMISSIONS. That meant no new fossil fuels.

Well, we knew it wasn't going to be easy.

So were we surprised when, before the ink was dry, our government licensed huge chunks of England for fracking? No. We knew this was the next battle we would have to fight: in Lancashire, in Yorkshire and here in Manchester.

Fracking is a toxic nightmare, it will frack our countryside, it will frack our water and it will frack our health, but it will above all frack our climate.

It is a new fossil fuel. Fracking does not keep coal in the ground. The fracking did cause US coal use to drop, but US coal exports increased by even more.

Whats more, the fracking boom unleashed a cloud of methane that can be seen from space. Methane is a Greenhouse gas thirty times more potent than carbon dioxide. It leaks from fracking wells, from storage sites, from every part of the US natural gas system. The worst leak of all was in Porter Ranch, Los Angeles (which is nothing to do with my family by the way!) where 100,000 tons of methane escaped from an underground storage facility. For the climate, this was a worse disaster than the Deepwater Horizon.

But as well as being a new fossil fuel, and as well as the fugitive emissions, fracking will lock us into a new generation of fossil fuel power stations. A gas fired power station will last for thirty years, which means the infrastructure being planned now will  could still be polluting in 2050, long after the UK fracking boom will have ended even if the industry's most optimistic forecasts are right.

We know what the alternatives is. It's wind and wave and solar. It's jobs and clean air and energy security. It's public transport and warm houses and fewer private jets. It's a sane, humane and ecological future.

It will happen.

It must happen.

But it isn't going to be easy.


Clive Lord said...

I am standing as Green Party Leader Part of my case is that a steady state economy is necessary to save us from climate change. As long as growth is seen as the norm, they will frack, and nothing will stop them. I keep saying the Basic Income is the first step towards no growth

Martin Porter said...

The irony is right now zero growth would be an optimistic outlook for the UK economy, whereas an investment in a Green Industrial Revolution would actually produce growth, at least in the short term.