As has been widely reported this morning, the UK government has reversed its position on fracking, and will no longer support its use.
This is excellent news for a number of obvious reasons. First, there’s little evidence fracking really works in the UK. Second, it would have caused considerable harm to communities. Third, we do not need more carbon burnt. Fourth, the secondary pollution risks from fracking, and most especially to water courses, are very high. For these and other direct reasons the change of mind is good news.
There is another reason to also think it good news. This is from the financial and policy perspective. The evidence is that just because a process does not work does not prevent funds pouring into it in pursuit of promised yields that will never materialise. This may already be true in the case of much US fracking. I am certain it would have been true in the UK. And there would have been a reason for that. The carbon lobby could use fracking as an argument that ‘of course we need investment in new energy sources, but not in alternative and sustainable energy because fracking can meet our needs’. As a result it was a massive, and I suggest, deliberate distraction that worked well with a government that had no love for anything green.
In that case the end of fracking is even more significant than it seems. Everything that unblocks the routing of money to the energy systems we really need is welcome. The failure of fracking can be seen in that light.