A report produced by Talk Fracking for the Ecologist magazine concludes that the UK Government’s reliance on a report based on allegedly flawed data has led it to mislead Parliament on the potential climate change impacts of fracking.
This latest report, Whitehall’s ‘Fracking’ Science Failure, calls into question the basis for the Government’s reliance on the 2013 Mackay-Stone report (which concluded that: “With the right safeguards in place, the net effect on UK GHG emissions from shale gas production in the UK will be relatively small”) by demonstrating that the data used in the calculations was suspect, and that the Government should reasonably have been expected to know this at the time.
The conclusions are based on the fact that the MacKay-Stone report is in turn based on data from the now-discredited Allen et al (2013) report – Measurements of Methane Emissions at Natural Gas Productions Sites in the United States, which resulted in them using bottom-up data. Paul Mobbs stated that this “traditionally under-estimated emissions by two to four times” and using estimated figures “for gas production per well were at least twice what is seen in US gas wells – and had no clear independent source”.
Mr Mobbs concludes that:
“Using a figure for leakage which was perhaps a half of what it should have been, and using a figure for gas production which was twice what it should have been, the level of impacts which their analysis found is arguably a quarter of what it should be.”
If this the case, then the Government’s argument that using shale gas has a lower climate change impact than coal is not valid.
The report concludes that: “the Mackay-Stone report must be withdrawn, and a moratorium implemented on all ‘fracking’ operations, until we can state the impacts with certainty.”
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire stated:
“The Government’s justification for its fracking policy is reliant on the argument that shale gas is significantly cleaner than coal. This new report raises significant concerns regarding the data, methodology and even the equipment used to support the Government’s shale gas policy, which is now, once again, enshrined in the Conservative manifesto.
“The Government must now, as a matter of urgency, either defend the evidence on which the Mackay-Stone report was based or investigate fully the conclusions of this new report and impose a moratorium on shale gas development until the issue of fugitive emissions is satisfactorily resolved.”