Myth: “Fracking is a bridge fuel to a low-carbon economy.”
Fact: It is true that burning gas in power stations produces less CO2 than burning coal.
However, by focusing only on CO2 emissions from the power station chimney, supporters of fracking are not telling the whole story. A far more dangerous greenhouse gas is methane – the main gas produced by fracking – which is many times more potent than CO2 (86 times more over a 20-year time frame).
Studies vary in their methods and measurement of fugitive (i.e. leaking) methane, but there is a growing consensus that up to 10% may be lost to the atmosphere during exploration and production, and that even more is lost from leaking abandoned wells.
This would make fracked gas even more damaging for the climate than coal.
“You can be in favour of fixing the climate. Or you can be in favour of exploiting shale gas. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time.” – John Ashton, former Special Representative on Climate Change to the Foreign Secretary, 2006-2012.
Besides which, the industry says it would take at least a decade to develop shale gas to large scale production in the UK – by which time, according to the government’s recent announcement, coal power stations will already have been phased out. So shale gas would not be replacing coal.