By Martin Banks - 24th September 2012
Concerned communities and organisations across Europe are taking action against shale gas
Friends of the Earth Europe
A new report warns that Europe risks "side-lining its vision" for a sustainable, low-carbon energy future.
The Friends of the Earth Europe report insists the EU "permanently closes its doors to unconventional and unwanted fossil fuels like shale gas".
Shale gas, a form of unconventional gas found in shale reservoirs, is increasingly viewed by EU policymakers as a viable energy source in the mid to long-term.
But the FoE report, 'Unconventional and unwanted' cautions that shale gas could "lock Europe into continued dependency" on fossil fuels.
This, it adds, would be "at the expense" of renewable energy, energy savings and "significant reductions" in climate-changing emissions.
The report comes as opposition to shale gas gathers momentum across Europe, with a 'global day of action' against fracking staged last Saturday.
This comes in the wake of two parliamentary committees – industry, research and energy and environment – which last week voted on their respective reports on the impacts of shale gas development in Europe.
Critics say the outcomes of the votes was "ambiguous", saying that while they recognise the "serious risks" posed by shale gas MEPs remain committed to promoting it as "necessary fuel for our energy security".
According to FoE evidence shows 'fracking', the process used to extract shale gas, is an "unambiguously high-risk" activity that threatens human health and the wider environment.
The commission itself, in a recent study, recognises the high risk of water contamination and air pollution associated with fracking.
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said, "Fossil fuels like shale gas are unconventional and unwanted – they threaten the health of local communities, and the environment.
"They also threaten to lock Europe into fossil fuel dependency, side-lining renewable energy developments, energy savings and Europe’s commitment to a low-carbon future."
Simon said that the environmental impacts of shale gas and other unconventional fuels, such as coal bed methane, are being "underplayed" in the current debate on Europe's energy future.
"Concerned communities and organisations across Europe are taking action against shale gas development. People see what's happening in the US and don't want to see the same dangerous experiment on health and the environment conducted in Europe."
The report said such fuel rely on "unproven" technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) but "gaps" in current EU legislation make them attractive to investors and decision makers.
Bans on fracking are already in place in France and Bulgaria and there are moratoria in regions of Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
FoE is campaigning for European member states to suspend on-going activities, retract permits and place bans on any new projects.