Respect Local Democracy and Keep Britain Frack-Free

What is it with this government and fracking? They seem to be obsessed with drilling; the proven safe and truly renewable wind and solar energies are not for them. They want the earth penetrated by drilling and the injection of high pressure water, laced with a cocktail of nasty chemicals and sand, to frack the hell out of the rocks beneath our beautiful countryside.
All of that is to release fossil fuel, in the form of natural gas (methane).  It is true that natural gas, when burned, releases half the CO2 per unit of energy compared with coal. However, if you take leakages of the gas during drilling and transportation into account that advantage largely disappears. This is because methane is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
In any case the latest report from the US-based think tank Oil Change International (OCI) concludes that “the world’s working coal mines and oil and gas fields contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the threshold for catastrophic climate change”.  No more fossil fuel should be dug up. Meanwhile, the British government in the shape of Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has overturned Lancashire county council’s rejection of a license to frack thus giving the green light for the shale company Cuadrilla to drill in the county next year.
So much for local democracy and listening to the people; this government only listens if it agrees with you. When it comes to fracking, even democracy will be fracked.  I sometimes wonder if this Tory government really believes in climate change. Could it be that they are closet climate change deniers?  To them, local democracy is good enough to block wind farms, but not good enough to block fracking. This is hypocrisy on stilts.
Post Brexit vote, Britain is going through a phase where evidence based decisions are to be mocked and derided.  Expert opinions are to be ignored and replaced by “this is what I believe; don’t confuse me with the facts”.  The evidence is now overwhelming that the only way to halt the dangerous future that awaits humanity is to rapidly cut our CO2 emissions by keeping fossil fuel in the ground.  Drilling for more fossil fuel to come on stream is madness.  Moreover, it actually violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Paris agreement that Britain is committed to ratify by the end of this year (2016).
It is high time that we put climate change above party politics. Political parties may have legitimate philosophical differences on how best to run the economy, capitalism, socialism…etc. But climate change trumps all these arguments, as it puts the future of all humanity at risk. This issue is truly “we are all in this together,” to borrow the phrase George Osborne, our previous Chancellor, used in another context.
I agree with our Prime Minister when she says “it is time to remember the good the government can do”.  What this statement needs is a definition of what is considered good for our planet. It is no good hiking up taxes that threaten solar-powered businesses. It is no good putting obstacles in the way of wind power. It is no good intervening in Lancashire to overturn the democratically reached decision not to allow fracking. It would be good to reduce the hidden subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to encourage divestment from the source that is causing climate change
Climate Change is real and is man-made, so let us put our political differences aside and agree to keep fossil fuel in the ground.  Keep Britain frack-free.
Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.