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On December 1st – the same day as the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru began Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE) released the report: “Fracking Frenzy: how the fracking industry is threatening the planet”. The report highlights the expansion of the shale gas fracking industry - with examples of eleven key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It finds that multinational oil and gas companies such as Total, Shell and Chevron are moving into increasingly vulnerable countries - where the ecosystems, communities and authorities are even less unable to cope with the impacts of extraction.
Hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) is a technique used to extract unconventional oil and gas. The technique implies drilling several kilometers bellow ground in order to extract gas and oil densely situated in shale layers. A mixture of millions of liters of water, sand and toxic chemicals is injected to crack the rocks bellow surface to extract the shale gas. Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner FOEE, explains how the environmental records has been well documented by the academic society: “they are particularly concerning with significant cases of ground and surface water contaminations, severe air pollutions, and as a consequence impacts to the health of local populations”. Susanne Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner, FOEE points to how important it is to show the impacts around the world of fracking and shale gas: “I think it is the first time that we can see clearly that these impacts really are threatening life and livelihoods around the world.”
In the report Friends of the Earth Europe state that the global development of shale gas has generated much debate. Natural gases, shale gas included, are often promoted as a perfect transition fuel, as a complement to renewables, in order to cut coal. Friends of the Earth Europe illustrate that this is not the case: “the report shows clearly that the impacts are threatening around the world”. Antoine explains that the fracking technique involves methane leaking into the atmosphere: “it makes natural gas in that context one of the worst fossils fuels that we can have”.
Environmental destruction by European companies
The report takes a closer look at shale gas development in eleven countries, particularly as they are cases with fragile ecosystems. Friends of the Earth Europe states that in most of these countries European oil and gas companies have started shale gas development there: “we want to look how the companies behave, particularly that they do not apply any double standards in our continent and what they do in other countries”. The report shows on the same pattern of environmental destruction: “no matter how big the company is, no matter where it is coming from, no matter where they operate, and no matter how they operate”. Antoine argues that the industry develops these activities without doing proper assessment of the impacts to the environment: “it is once again the question if decision makers should develop a new industry to the detriment of the environment”. Susan states that Friends of the Earth Europe’s position is clear: “we do not want to see that climate is financed for dirty energy projects – including shale gas and coal projects, but rather that money goes into community energy renewable solutions”.
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