Church of England Gives Blessing to Fracking in the UK
A report released last week by the Church of England endorses shale development in the United Kingdom, lauding fracking as a “morally acceptable practice” when paired with a clean energy transition and appropriate safety measures.
Authored by the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Environmental Working Group of the Church of England, the report serves as both a practical and ethical assessment of fracking for communities throughout the UK, and explains that,
“As shale gas is a cleaner option than some alternatives, the case can be made that, as the transition to a low carbon economy is a gradual process, shale gas has an important role to play in such a policy.
“… Shale gas is a potentially useful element in achieving a transition to a much lower carbon economy.”
The working group is intended to help develop the church’s positions on issues affecting the UK and its citizens, as well as to provide information it needs for investment decisions of the Church Commissioners, who manage an asset portfolio of $9 billion. With such a large endowment, it is often the subject to lobbying by non-governmental organizations working on climate and energy issues.
But despite an intense lobbying effort from anti-fracking activist groups across the UK, the Church issued its reasoned support for fracking, stating: “We are persuaded that a robust planning and regulatory regime could be constructed” to utilize fracking and uncover the UK’s shale gas resources for the good of the country and its economy.
Former Greenpeace director and Friends of the Earth member Stephen Tindale — a self-proclaimed lifelong green — said in 2016,
“Fracking is not the problem…but a central part of the answer. And if activist groups including Greenpeace really want to help the environment, they should stop protesting about projects like this and let them be built as quickly as possible.”
Tindale’s support of fracking is not a new development. He also wrote in his 2014 article, The climate case for shale gas, that “climate campaigners should support fracking for shale gas.” Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth — the latter group which was recently reprimanded by a UK regulatory authority for distributing misleading anti-fracking leaflets — could benefit from following the Church of England’s findings and numbers of their peers who have distanced themselves from the “ban fracking” agenda.
After all, Tim Stone, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change’s chief scientist, recently published findings that further confirm that the carbon footprint of shale gas used for electricity is significantly lower than the carbon footprint of coal, making it an excellent way for the UK to keep its promises made in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement (COP 21) to reduce carbon emissions.
The Church of England also recognized COP 21 as a key element of the UK government’s policies, and explained that maintaining the agreement’s integrity “means that the overall carbon consumption in the UK must be constrained whatever its source.”
Groups and individuals in the UK continue to reach across the aisle and shake hands to agree on the benefits of fracking. As they do so, they are setting the framework for a clean energy pathway and economic growth, making way for a bright future in the UK.