“Green the wells” – oxymoron or more industry spin?

How can drilling wells and fracking for oil and gas possibly be made “green”?

The industry says, by using more efficient technologies “to make sure that wells are used to their full potential”, “to look after the rocks at the nano level” and “if you must frack, do it with a non-damaging fluid“.

Earlier in the month, four of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies claimed that they could help solve climate change problems using “Natural gas as a core pillar for a sustainable future of the planet“. What hypocrisy!  Unfortunately the industry has the ears of many, including some environmentalists who seem to have fallen in the traps of choosing between gas and coal. But these are impossible choices. Both coal and gas are fossil fuels and both should be kept in the ground, especially in New Zealand where there are abundant renewable energy sources.

In reality, the increase in gas production does not always trigger a decline or displacement of coal. Without strong limits on greenhouse gas emissions or policies that explicitly encourage renewable electricity, abundant natural gas may actually slow the process of decarbonization, primarily by delaying deployment of renewable energy technologies. Encouraging “new gas” to be made available by fracking may even be considered a violation of human rights. Climate Justice Taranaki has written explicitly about the issue of industry spins to promote natural gas as a ‘clean’ fuel and bridge to renewable energies, and the far ranging social and environmental impacts of fracking – please read here.

Increasing, it is becoming clear that the industry is struggling to stay viable economically and maintain its social license, as it is no longer just the die-hard activists and environmentalists warning about the deteriorating state of the world. Mainstream economists, political commentator, and even the Pope, are questioning technological and economic development that ignores the planet’s limits, fosters over-consumption and drives inequality.

While the New Zealand government remains complacent and pays only lip service to climate change, environmental groups  take real action. Did you see Greenpeace’s volunteers scaled up the Parliament house and mounted solar panels up there, to tell the government to take “real climate action”?


New ‘greener’ technology key to viability of oil and gas sector (TDN, 25 June 2015)

Is gas a weapon in the fight against climate change? (BBC, 9 June 2015)

Greenpeace protesters scale Parliament House (NZ Herald, 25 June 2015)

Climate Justice Taranaki’s Comments on ECO’s proposed policy on fracking (20 June 2015)

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