Cuadrilla boss delivers climate change challenge

The boss of shale gas company Cuadrilla has called on the government to act to make fracking commercially viable to help achieve the UK’s climate change aims.

Francis Egan was responded to a report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which says Britain should lead the world by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050.

The chief executive of Cuadrilla, which has invested heavily in shale gas exploration in Lancashire, said the report had not factored in the carbon footprint created by importing natural gas from overseas.

Describing that as “creative carbon accounting”, he said that extracting gas from underneath Lancashire was “far more responsible” environmentally.

Egan said: “We note that the committee’s report recognises that we will continue to be using significant quantities of natural gas in the UK out to 2050 and beyond in conjunction with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology and in producing hydrogen as an alternative energy for the future.

“We also note the assumption in the report that the CO2 and methane emissions generated in importing natural gas into the UK over huge distances by ship and by pipeline are not to be accounted for by the UK. 

Using natural gas extracted here is environmentally far more responsible than importing gas.

“Imported gas therefore lands into the UK effectively emission free. This smacks of creative carbon accounting and is not a credible or safe assumption."

Egan added: “All concerned about addressing climate change should accept that using natural gas extracted here in the UK, such as the 1,300 trillion cubic feet beneath our feet in the Bowland Shale, is environmentally far more responsible than importing gas from thousands of miles away.

“The committee’s report highlights some tough proposals if we are to become net zero by 2050, but it is also clear that our demand for gas will remain and could be 86 per cent imported gas by then if we don’t establish our own source.

“For these reasons we urge the government to support our request for a review of the regulations and assist the onshore shale gas industry in becoming commercially viable and assisting the country in achieving our ambitious climate change aims.”

The CCC, an independent advisor to the government, said England can eliminate emissions by 2050, while Scotland could go carbon-free by 2045.