Fracking Pumps Up Public’s Climate Fears
Governments worldwide are finding that public opposition to fracking for gas is growing because of concerns that it will worsen climate change.
Public opposition to pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale − the technique known as fracking − is growing even in the countries whose governments are most in favour.
Although only four countries – France, Bulgaria, Germany and Scotland – have an outright fracking ban at the moment, many districts in countries that allow fracking in some areas ban it in others.
This is true in the US and in Canada, where potential wells will not be developed because local authorities have refused permission.
The carrot for governments generally has been the promise from the fossil fuel companies of large quantities of cheaply-extracted gas that will last for decades and cut their reliance on imports.
This has certainly been true in the US and Canada, where a large-scale fracking boom has altered the balance of world energy resources and cut the price of gas so much that both coal and nuclear have struggled to remain competitive in electricity production.
In theory, China has even larger reserves of shale gas and is anxious to phase out coal plants, actively exploring a cleaner home-grown gas industry of its own.
But allegations that fracking contaminates water supplies and creates small earthquakes have led to a backlash in local communities across the world.
In Algeria, for example, where water is extremely precious, it led to large-scale protests. And in Europe, a much more crowded continent where homes and villages are always close to the proposed drilling sites, there has been a lot of local opposition.
The issue has also become much more controversial because of the increasing awareness of climate change.