Germany's move to lift fracking ban

Posted on July 11, 2014
Posted By: Francisco Szekely

With evidence of climate change becoming clearer than ever, European countries should think carefully before allowing fracking in their territory. Although hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — offers the benefits of abundant supplies of unconventional oil and gas and lower carbon emissions than other combustibles such as oil and gas, it is not a sustainable solution due to its large environmental costs and its potential contribution to climate change. Moreover, the short-term economic promises fracking it offers are also taking our sense of urgency away from transitioning to more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

Although natural gas has come to be seen as an ideal form of clean energy, the unburned methane gas that escapes during the fracking 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 United States, three percent 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.

Now fracking is coming to Europe. In 2011, France declared its moratorium on fracking. The German Government did the same just after its 2013 election pending an environmental risk assessment. However, during the the past few days Berlin announced that it is ready to lift the ban on fracking oil in early 2015, mainly to reduce the country’s dependency on gas imports from Russia. Unfortunately this decision is not a sustainable solution. 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 fracking.

We know the economics of sustainability, but who will pay? To quote Albert Einstein “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. Over the past 30 years, the triple bottom line concept that consists of focusing on the sustainability of the environment and society as well as profit has not helped the productive sector do real good for the world.

Fracking 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.

Authored By:
Francisco Szekely is Professor of Leadership and Sustainability at IMD. His work contributes to the understanding of the interrelationships between the emergence of new social, economic and environmental trends as well as the development of long-term, sustainable business strategies. His research explores how companies can include sustainability as a key element of their business strategy; the link between sustainability and business performance; high performance leadership; the development of the leadership

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July, 12 2014

Chavdar Azarov says

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July, 12 2014

Ferdinand E. Banks says

On the basis of the evidence, I don't buy the environmental claims. If there is gas and oil, , precautions can be taken to avoid danger to good peple like myself. The belief for example by the incompetent president of France that fracking should not be allowed for environmental reasons is the same kind of thing as Merkel is doing in Germany. Votes are the explanation.

But something smells about this fracking business. Yes, things have goine well with a few deposits in the US, but they haven't gone well with others. Billions of dollars have been lost on fracking ventures, and people who cant spell fracking or gas have declared themselves experts and have started talking about 'revolutions'. In addition, some very very smart people have looked at fracking and asked questions that fracking partisans and experts cannot answer.

As for fracking to reduce the dependence on Russian gas, that must be the dumbest thing I have Heard this year, and I hear dumb things all the time..I'm glad to see this article. Maybe we can clear a few things up

July, 18 2014

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Well that article is completely bonkers. If you are a believer in climate change you will note that methane gas is 24 times more effective than Carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Even in the best designed systems about 4% of it leaks out. That means even if methane burning is more efficient and reduces the amount of CO2 produced we are still worse off because we put tons more methane in the atmosphere.

That policy sounds a bit stupid to me.


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