The Shale Gas World brochure describes the event as ‘the premier meeting place for shale gas and unconventional resource stakeholders’. The series of industry conferences on shale gas is happening across the world, from Buenos Aires to Warsaw. It continues: ‘Join us to engage with local communities and debate the prospect of shale gas exploration in the UK.’
In reality, ‘to engage with local communities’ means keeping them outside, unless they’ve got a few grand to blow on getting to this ‘premier meeting place’. The price of the golden ticket – a massive £1,750 – is beyond the reach of the majority of people who care and are affected. Vexed by this, local resident Angela Riches created a protest event on social media, to make people aware of an opportunity to engage the industry close-up.
Protesters converged to protest against this unaccountable gathering of mostly middle-aged, wealthy white men. Every time one of them showed their faces they were greeted with protesters’ shouts of ‘Shale will fail!’ They are part of a growing global protest, and some of the signs being carried came from as far afield as Australia. There is no safe place in the world to hide from the protests of a public determined to protect their quality of life and their local ecosystems.
Inside the event, MPs, councillors and various government representatives mingled with executives from a variety of gas companies. The main sponsor was Halliburton. You may remember Halliburton as ‘that company Dick Cheney was very close to when he was pushing for the war in Iraq’. One of Halliburton’s managers was recently found guilty of destroying evidence relating to concrete the company produced that failed on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Previously the company also settled out of court for hundreds of millions of dollars after corruption charges were brought by the Nigerian government.
Yesterday the shale gas, oil and coal seam gas explorers IGas Energy plc bought out Dart Energy, which holds coal seam gas licenses in Scotland, in a deal worth £117m. This makes IGas Britain’s largest shale gas explorer.
This conference comes at the point of the 14th round of licenses being given out. The Climate Change Act 2008 states that the UK must reduce its emissions of the six Kyoto greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide and methane – by 80 per cent by 2050 (based on a 1990 baseline). We have a good set of renewable energy resources in the UK, particularly wind power. But the current government retreats ever further from its pledge to be the ‘Greenest Government Ever’. ‘No new onshore wind power’ is being touted as the new Conservative battle-cry in the elections.
We have an opportunity to create community-owned solutions to our energy crisis, and to create a zero carbon solution that works for everyone in the UK. First, though, we must confront those who want the world’s future to revolve around shale gas.
The price of a ticket to Shale Gas World? £1,750 + VAT
The price of lobbying a government minister? Unknown
Securing the gas supply in the UK for a few years and wrecking the climate? Priceless