The UK’s position on fracking has not changed and shale gas wells will be closed with concrete by the 30 June deadline despite pressure from the rightwing press and backbench 보수 주의자, according to a government spokesperson.
On Tuesday Steve Baker, the MP for High Wycombe and a trustee of the climate sceptic thinktank Global Warming Policy Foundation, hosted the shale gas lobby along with MPs and journalists in the Houses of Parliament. The event took place as the government committed to phasing out imports of Russian oil and gas by the end of the year, and reports in rightwing media suggested that fracking could be revived in the UK.
Not only is fracking potentially polluting, disruptive and dangerous to communities, many experts say it would take up to a decade to reap any benefits, and the amount of gas would not make a dent in the global price. Where fracking has been trialled, there has been major local opposition and anger due to earthquakes.
But the UK Onshore Oil and Gas lobby group described opposition to fracking as “illogical”, and Baker said: “As preparations are made for cement trucks to fill in the UK’s last functioning shale gas wells, it is obscene that Russia’s war crimes are being funded by Europe’s addiction to their gas.
“Under the government’s plans, we will need vast quantities of gas even as renewables are ramped up. It is time for all of us to listen to facts, not scare stories. The shale gas industry needs a level playing field and an end to hysterical misinformation.”
Reports in the Daily Mail and Telegraph suggested that Boris Johnson may be looking again at fracking despite the pollution it can cause.
A source at the Department for Business, 에너지 and Industrial Strategy told the Guardian: “The deadline to decommission wells is 30 유월, it has always been that. The government’s position on fracking hasn’t changed.”
The source said that despite pressure from the rightwing press, fracking was still not being considered by the government.
The business secretary, 콰시 콰르텡, has been strident in his opposition to fracking, and recently said it was not the answer. He tweeted: “The wholesale price of gas has quadrupled in UK and Europe. Additional UK production won’t materially affect the wholesale market price. This includes fracking – UK producers won’t sell shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities.”
Even MPs in Baker’s Net Zero Scrutiny Group have reservations about fracking in their constituencies. The Blackpool MP Scott Benton, who has previously mocked the Cop26 climate summit, has said he would be reticent to allow fracking in his constituency due to the earthquakes it has caused in the past.
But there has been pressure on Johnson to abandon his net zero goals. Nigel Farage announced his ambition for a referendum on the issue in a piece for the Mail on Sunday at the weekend.
The CBI said businesses were behind net zero, despite Farage calling his campaign “Britain Means Business”. Tom Thackray, the CBI’s decarbonisation director, 말했다: “Businesses across the economy are fully committed to meeting the UK’s net zero target, backed by their customers and investors. Not only will their actions to decarbonise help avert the risks of higher global temperatures, it is also an opportunity to transform our economy based on higher productivity jobs and green technologies.”
Polling shows that the UK public is strongly behind the move to a low-carbon economy, and businesses and senior political figures have rallied to the need for the UK to move away from fossil fuels.
Joe Twyman, co-founder of the public opinion consultancy Deltapoll, pointed out that support for net zero was consistently high. Nearly two-thirds of people (63%) supported the target in November, when the latest poll by the company was carried out, while fewer than one in 12 (8%) disapproved.
But Twyman said people tended to support the idea of holding referendums in general. “The only exception to that I can find is one I came up with in May 2013. The British public were divided 32% in favour and 44% against a referendum on Britain’s membership of the Eurovision song contest.”
Senior Conservatives close to the prime minister said elements within the Tory party were lobbying for a change of stance, but unsuccessfully. One of them, the donor and investor Ben Goldsmith, 말했다: “I don’t see [a change of mind from the prime minister] at all. I think the government recognises the public’s insistence on restoring the terribly depleted natural fabric of our country, and on tackling the growing climate crisis with the urgency it deserves.”
Sam Hall, of the Conservative Environment Network, which numbers nearly half of backbench Conservative MPs, said support for net zero was hardening under Putin’s weaponising of Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. “In my experience, the vast majority of Conservative MPs recognise the importance of helping Europe move away from Russian gas and expanding homegrown clean energy. The Ukraine crisis has made reducing gas consumption and achieving net zero more urgent.”