Firstly, it seems the Guardian didn't read my last post, because they've gone and published this. I love how, when it comes to a choice between the International Energy Agency and Greenpeace on assigning the contribution shale gas has made to the US's substantial CO2 reductions since 2007, the default assumption is the Greenpeace must be right and the IEA wrong. It's not like Greenpeace have a conflict of interest in downplaying shale gas contributions to CO2 emissions reductions or anything. Meanwhile, the IEA, as an international body with a duty of care, years of experience, and who actually have environmental protection as part of their remit, can't be relied upon?
I'll let John Hanger have the last word on the matter:
As usual, the doom-mongers say that shale gas can't possibly have an impact on our energy markets. Maybe their models are right, but this would completely discount the on-the-ground evidence from the US, where it's had a significant impact. But anyway, maybe there won't be enough shale gas to make a dramatic impact. But it can only help push things in the right direction - shale gas production will help stabilise volatile gas markets and reduce prices by boosting supply. This effect may be large, or it may be small, but I'd rather take my chances on a small benefit that could become a larger benefit, rather than just giving up before we even begin. And if companies want to take the risk by investigating money into shale gas exploration, that's their choice (I'm sure they did at least a little bit of research on the issue before sinking all that money in).
I should add that the rumour going round is that the next BGS shale gas reserves estimate is likely to be significantly upgraded. This is just a rumour at the moment, but it wouldn't surprise me.
BTW, I do love the contradiction inherent in so many anti-shale-gas commentaries - "shale gas would contribute considerably to our greenhouse gas emissions when we should be going renewable, but anyway there's not enough shale gas there to make an impact on our energy markets, so we shouldn't bother". Well, which is it? There's either enough down there to fry us all, or there isn't and we should be perfectly happy to let these companies waste all their money looking for something that will never be economic.
Finally, an interesting blog post from the US from someone in the heart of fracking country that is well worth a read. The author talks about how the money from shale gas exploration has helped her keep the family farm going, and about the wider economic boost that the area has experienced, while pointing out how exaggerated all of the shale gas scare stories really are.
The blog begins by talking about the new Matt Damon movie, the Promised Land, which is based around shale gas (Damon plays a company man tasked with getting the locals to sign gas leases, which goes swimmingly until all the pollution kicks off). There are some interesting rumours circulating about a final twist in the plot. Apparently, the OTT environmental campaigner turns out to be a company plant intending to discredit the environmental movement by smearing its members. I've no idea whether this will turn out to be true, but it seems pretty far-fetched to me!!! I guess we'll have to see.....