Schiefergas: Eine vorläufige Einschätzung der Auswirkungen für Klimawandel und Umwelt (Tyndall, Januar 2011)

Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts

Stand Januar 2011


This report, commissioned by The Co-operative, provides a provisional review and
assessment of the risks and benefits of shale gas development, with the aim of
informing The Co-operative’s position on this ‘unconventional’ fuel source.

The analysis within the report addresses two specific issues associated with the
extraction and combustion of shale gas. Firstly, it outlines potential UK and global
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from a range of scenarios building on
current predictions of shale gas resources. Secondly, it explores the health and
environmental risks associated with shale gas extraction. It should be stressed that a
key issue in assessing these issues has been a paucity of reliable data. To date
shale gas has only been exploited in the US and, while initial estimates have been
made, it is difficult to quantify the possible resources in other parts of the globe,
including the UK. Equally, information on health and environmental aspects is of
variable quality and only now is there any systematic effort being undertaken to
better understand these issues. Therefore, while every effort has been made to
ensure the accuracy of the information in the report, it can only be as accurate as the
information on which it draws.

It is clear however, that while shale gas extraction, at a global level, does not involve
the high energy and water inputs at the scale of other unconventional fuels, such as
oil derived from tar sands, it does pose significant potential risks to human health
and the environment. Principally, the potential for hazardous chemicals to enter
groundwater via the extraction process must be subject to more thorough research
prior to any expansion of the industry being considered. Additionally, while being
promoted as a transition route to a low carbon future, none of the available evidence
indicates that this is likely to be the case. It is difficult to envisage any situation other
than shale gas largely being used in addition to other fossil fuel reserves and adding
a further carbon burden. This could lead to an additional 11ppmv of CO2 over and
above expected levels without shale gas – a figure that could rise if more of the total
shale gas resource were to be exploited than envisaged in the scenarios. This would
be compounded if investment in shale gas were to delay the necessary investment in
zero and very low carbon technologies.



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