There is no room for fracking if we want to make sure we don’t go over 2 °C warming – the internationally agreed threshold for “dangerous” climate change. This is according to Kevin Anderson and John Broderick at the University of Manchester, who in as-yet-unpublished work crunched the numbers on emissions from UK shale gas.
That leaves the question of where the UK should turn for energy during the next decade or so. If fracking isn’t the right fuel to bridge the gap to renewables then what is? Coal is more polluting than gas, and nuclear is at least as controversial as fracking.
The easiest option is to import more gas. But a lot of this gas originates in Russia, whose pipelines are leaky and the warming effect of methane on the atmosphere is 21 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
“We need a Marshall plan for developing low carbon options,” says Anderson. He is a strong proponent of increasing energy efficiency and cutting consumption. “For the average UK citizen, changes can be incremental.”
His group is drawing up lists of ways in which the nation can cut back on its fossil fuel addiction, and calculating the impact of those changes on national emissions. Early results, he says, are promising.