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Fracked shale gas and climate change

When burnt, fossil fuels emit greenhouses gases which trap heat in our atmosphere. This effect is responsible for climate change.

Fracked shale gas, which is mostly composed of methane, was once seen as a cleaner transition fuel because when burnt, it emits only half the carbon that oil or coal does.

However, during fracking, transportation, processing and distribution, raw methane leaks. Some leakage happens in every system; engineers accept that this is unavoidable. Methane is a greenhouse gas that stays in the atmosphere for only decades, unlike carbon, which continues to heat our atmosphere for centuries. However, over the first 20 years it is up to 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon. The US industry acknowledges a leakage rate of 3% (globally the leakage rate may be as high as 9%) but the latest science tells us that once the leakage rate goes above 2.3%, any ‘clean fuel’ advantage of using fracked shale gas over coal or oil is lost. We would do better to build a new coal burning factory than to build Shannon LNG.