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Mining & Resources

Fracking ‘the best green option of this decade’

4 Oct 2013, by Informa Insights

Fracking could be one of the best green options of the decade, one industry commentator has argued.

Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, wrote in an article for USA Today that fracking has led to a “dramatic transition” to natural gas.

This shift is important for environmentalists because natural gas produces 45 per cent less carbon dioxide than burning coal, he added.

Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers by drilling down into the earth and then releasing highly pressurised fluids into the shale area.

This creates channels in the rock, allowing natural gas to be extracted at a much higher rate than traditional methods.

The practice has courted controversy, but Mr Lomborg claims some of the allegations levelled at fracking have probably been exaggerated, including the dangers of well contamination.

“If fracking happened worldwide, emissions would likely decline substantially by 2020,” he said.

“Over the coming decades, we need to drive down the cost of green energy through smart investments in green innovation.”

Mr Lomborg said switching to fracking could be a more efficient way of lessening our impact on the environment than traditional technologies such as solar power and electric cars.

According to the expert, German taxpayers have pumped around $130 billion into solar panel subsidies, but this will only stave off the progression of global warming by a “trivial” 37 hours.

“The electric car is even less efficient. Its production consumes a vast amount of fossil fuels, and mostly it utilises fossil fuel electricity to be recharged,” he stated.

He estimated that even if the US reached its target of one million electric cars by 2015, this would still only postpone global warming by 60 minutes.

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