By promoting shale gas development, the UK could see itself start to lag behind on low-carbon technology, putting investment and innovation at risk, according to analysis from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
While CIWEM recognises that fracking can help the UK improve its energy security and eventually reduce energy costs in the short-term, it warns that focusing on shale gas might have long-term negative effects.
The announcement comes as energy minister Greg Barker prepares to launch a new strategic framework for low-carbon technology at the Royal Society of Arts in London.
CIWEM’s chief executive, Dr Simon Festing, said, “The central bind for… Barker is that the more the UK seeks to develop shale gas to meet energy security needs, the greater the long-term risks that the government fails in its commitment to increase the use of low-carbon technologies.
“Outright opposition to fracking is irrational, since its use can reduce carbon emissions in the short-term. However, support for shale gas extraction must not come at the expense of low-carbon technologies.”
According to the CIWEM, using shale gas as a “transition fuel”, as energy secretary Ed Davey previously stated, might be risky, as it might mean that when the resource runs out, it will need to be quickly replaced by renewables, rather than these being progressively introduced.
CIWEM’s calls follow comments from the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) ahead of last week’s budget, who said that shelving social and environmental policies would be reckless and shortsighted in the transition to a low-carbon economy.