No fraccing way, says Swiss professor

A PROFESSOR from the prestigious Swiss business school IMD has warned European countries to think carefully before allowing fraccing in their territories.

No fraccing way, says Swiss professor

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His words come after Germany's announcement that it would lift its fraccing ban.

According to IMD professor of leadership and sustainability Francisco Szekely, hydraulic fracturing offered the benefits of abundant supplies of unconventional oil and gas and lower carbon emissions than other combustibles such as coal and oil.

However, he said it was not a sustainable solution due to its large environmental costs and its potential contribution to climate change.

"Moreover, the short-term economic promises fraccing offers are also taking our sense of urgency away from transitioning to more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power," Szekely said.

"Although natural gas has come to be seen as an ideal form of clean energy, the unburned methane gas that escapes during the fraccing process can pollute the environment much more than conventional energy sources such as coal and oil.

"According to studies carried out in Colorado in the US, 3 per cent or more of natural gas can leak during the drilling process for shale gas. This gas is 80 times more toxic to the environment than coal."

Of concern to Szekely was that fraccing was coming to Europe. France declared its moratorium on fraccing in 2011 and the German government did the same in 2013.

However, in the past few days Berlin announced it was ready to lift the ban on fraccing oil in early 2015. This was mainly to reduce Germany's reliance on gas imports from Russia.

"Unfortunately this decision is not a sustainable solution," Szekely said.

"The temporary relief of geopolitics should not be achieved at the long-term cost of environmental degradation.

"To put our economy and our world on a path to sustainability, governments and companies need to focus on doing real good for society and not just doing less harm, as seems to be the case with fraccing.

"Fraccing in Europe would provide short-term economic benefits at best, and what is clear is that developed societies cannot continue consuming as we do now if we want to ensure the sustainability of our world for future generations.

"Europe needs to find a new way of thinking."

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