The use of finite energy resources such as fossil fuels cannot meet the energy needs of a growing population without contributing to the unacceptable impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Climate change is the most serious threat facing biodiversity. We therefore support the development of renewable energies and the phasing out of fossil fuels. We also support the UK Government’s legally binding commitments to reduce carbon emission enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2008.
The Government published targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from 1990 levels) by 2050. The pursuance of shale gas may remove political drivers for renewable energy schemes and energy efficiency initiatives, both further frustrate efforts to limit global temperature rises at 2°, as agreed in Copenhagen. The impacts on the environment are poorly understood, but potentially significant. Furthermore, the current environmental regulatory framework may not provide adequate protection for the environment, especially as regulators are under pressure to speed up permitting processes.
Is the UK fit to frack?
The Sussex Wildlife Trust recognises that all forms of energy generation will entail some environmental costs and that the risks and benefits associated with each must be weighed against each other and considered in the context of location and scale. We believe that the UK Government should retain its focus on sustainable energy production and energy conservation, and ensure that funding is prioritised for the development and implementation of renewable energy technologies.
There are a number of improvements that could be made to the regulatory system which would minimise the potential environmental impacts and we urge Government and its regulators to put these into practice. However, even if these measures are implemented, our view of the current evidence base suggests that shale gas exploitation is not compatible with UK emissions reduction targets and wider commitments to tackling climate change.
We are deeply concerned about the impact that fracking could have on the species and habitats of Sussex. For more information please read our Position Statement on Onshore Shale Gas Extraction in Sussex.