Infrastructure Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) (IB 37)

1. This document outlines the concerns held by Quaker Peace & Social Witness regarding the Maximising economic recovery of UK petroleum’ clause and clauses relating to petroleum and geothermal energy in deep-level land in the Infrastructure Bill.

2. Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) helps Quakers in Britain to live out their faith in the world. QPSW supports the work done in local Quaker meetings. It also does work which directly contributes to building peaceful and just communities, both in the UK and beyond. Through the activities of QPSW we hope to promote equality and peace for all people.

3. We welcome the opportunity to submit out views on two parts of the Infrastructure Bill:

- Clause relating to Maximising economic recovery of UK petroleum’ (current clause 36)

- Clauses relating to petroleum and geothermal energy in deep-level land (current clauses 38 – 43)

4. Maximising economic recovery of UK petroleum (clause 36)

4.1 QPSW has concerns about the inclusion of this provision.

4.2 In the Copenhagen Accord (UNFCCC, 2010) global governments, including the UK, agreed to ‘hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity’.

4.3 The UK Climate Change Act commits successive governments to minimise the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions – by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels. As it is our cumulative emissions (and carbon budget) that matters most, the transformation cannot be delayed [1] .

4.4 Based on a precautionary approach only 20% of total known fossil fuel reserves can be burnt to 2050 if we are to have an 80% chance of avoiding a 2°C temperature rise. [2]

4.5 As such UK government should not be making it a requirement for the Secretary of State or others to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum. Oil is extracted with the intention of being burnt: a process which produces carbon emissions.

4.6 Such legislation would appear to lock the UK into a direction of travel inconsistent with the necessary rapid reduction in emissions.

5. Petroleum and geothermal energy in deep-level land (clauses 38 – 43)

5.1 QPSW is calling for a cessation of the exploration and extraction of natural gas and oil from the UK’s shale formations. Therefore we oppose the inclusion of all provisions in the Bill that would facilitate exploration and extraction activity. Clauses 38 – 43 change the trespass law by introducing a new right to use deep-level land, and so would facilitate the ease by which companies could explore for and extract gas or oil by fracking.

5.2 Based on a precautionary approach only 20% of total known fossil fuel reserves can be burnt to 2050 if we are to have an 80% chance of avoiding a 2°C temperature rise. [3]

5.3 There is not space in the UK, or global, carbon budget for additional forms of fossil fuels, such as gas or oil extracted by fracking. DECC has reported that shale gas, if well regulated, would have a significantly lower carbon footprint than coal when used for electricity [4] . Assuming this analysis is correct (and it has been disputed) there is no guarantee that shale gas would replace coal. Indeed the UK government is predicting coal use to be largely phased out in the 2020s [5] , the earliest time at which shale gas could be in major production - so shale will not be competing with coal, but with lower-carbon electricity sources.

5.4 We hope that a ban, or at least moratorium, on fracking may be introduced to the Bill instead.

January 2015


[1] Real Clothes for the Emperor: facing the challenges of climate change. Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester, 2012

[2] Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets, Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute, LSE, 2013

[3] Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and Stranded Assets, Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute, LSE, 2013

[4] UK Shale: Climate change report, DECC, 2014

[5] Updated Energy and Emissions Projections 2014, DECC, 2014 pg 40

Prepared 13th January 2015