Friends of the Earth are great at presenting emotional arguments for their various green concerns – from Bees to Fracking.
Here Nick Grealy argues it is all a money-making ploy by FoE. (Yes, I nicked his blog, which though two years old is still relevant)
I cannot understand why any still support them
I’ve always wondered why Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are against shale gas, but I never thought them cynical. But recently, I’m starting to think that they, and many of the householders they ally themselves with, aren’t interested in the big picture of climate change, but spare change. They could well be only in it for the money.
For example, Dr Paul Stevens of Chatham House, is often quoted approvingly by FoE, this being only one of several examples on the FoE website.
Exploitation of shale gas in the UK could have a major impact on the investment in renewable energy needed to decarbonize the energy sector. Energy expert Professor Paul Stevens of Chatham House has written that “There is a real fear among many analysts that shale gas may substitute not for coal but for renewables” and that “the anticipation of cheap natural gas could inhibit investment in renewables. But again, if the revolution fails to deliver a lot of cheap gas, by the time this is realized it could well be too late to revert to a solution to climate change based upon renewables”
Dr Stevens also appeared at the Canterbury Debate this year, mostly on the anti-side. He’s been quoted here over the years as the search button shows. After all, he’s predicted doom and gloom about US shale for five years. He hasn’t been right there obviously, but his way of thinking is very popular in the City of London for example. In a deferential society like the the UK, only those with credentials can become experts. Actually being right or wrong doesn’t come into it.
But on June 17 at the World National Oil Companies Congress, I asked him while I was moderating the session on shale oil and gas worldwide, a little local question: Why are FoE and Greenpeace so vocal in their opposition to UK shale?
No video exists, but Paul, with no prompting, and far less hesitation replied something like this:
“After the financial crash, the FoE and Greenpeace lost, like everyone else, a lot of financial support and members. They use shale as a fundraising tool”
Me (somewhat incredulously): “They’re only in this for the money?”
Stevens: “Well, they’ve had a surge in membership since Balcombe in 2013”
The FoE don’t have any easily accessible membership numbers to see the trend but they do highlight this within their 2012/13 report.
18,000new supporters as a result of The Bee Cause campaign.
I recall a conversation I had with an FoE fundraiser (she admitted she was paid £6.80 an hour plus commission) in Covent Garden London earlier this year. She admitted that a lot of people complained about the fracking opposition, but during her training was told to divert those conversations to their bee campaign.
I’m happy to support the Bee campaign, but the FoE anti-fracking campaign is mentioned far more often by both them and the media. Speaking of the media, Here’s an exchange between Roger Harrabin (Chief Environmental Correspondent of the BBC) and I earlier in June:
Considering the debate in the UK constantly talks about “unstudied” “controversial” shale gas impact on water supplies, I’m at a loss to understand the editorial decisions as to why the end of a four year US EPA study of water in the US that found no big effect is not worthy of comment
Multiple other stories in US press, the FT has been the only one in Europe that’s covered the story.
On 7 Jun 2015, at 15:51, Roger Harrabin – Internet wrote:
I have said virtually the same for the past six years Nick – so it’s not news to me
For others… it has been impossible to get stories on air recently cos of other major news
From: Nick Grealy
Date: Sunday, 7 June 2015 17:44
To: Roger Harrabin
Subject: Re: Fracking Has Not Had Big Effect on Water Supply, E.P.A. Says While Noting Risks – NYTimes.com
Well I’m hoping that this is a sign of the normalisation of “unconventional” shale, it has rather slipped reassuringly off the radar of the national press.
But at the point of trying to get planning permission it is very hard to undo the damage of years of assertions about how shale is killing the water, when the biggest study ever done gets ignored. Shale opponents can cite a wall of assertions to their local councils and MPS. It would be nice if the refutation was included. Not including peer reviewed multi year studies, while anecdote and innuendo made every front page two years ago, and more importantly, lives on the internet forever. This makes enabling natural gas, and cutting carbon, that much more difficult.
Hope to hear nothing more about shale ever again from mainstream UK press, but doubt that I have…
Thanks anyway for the response Roger, much appreciated
It’s about house prices
It always is
At least shale unlike wind has not been flattened by the syndrome
There we have it. It’s down to money from the FoE and house prices according to the chief environmental correspondent of the BBC. And all this time I have been rather innocently trying to point out that natural gas is a solution to the climate question. When it appears that isn’t the real issue after all.
Worth mentioning again, Norton Rose‘s report of last year, which saw a link between proximity and how likely people will sue:
While merely speculation, the rise in such litigation evidenced by the cases discussed may be attributed, at least in part, to increased drilling in proximity to populated areas and heightened media scrutiny of the process.
A discussion about Scottish land rights in the FT recently had a quote which transfers perfectly to Balcombe or Lancashire:
“In small communities, if you kick one person, 20 people start to limp,”
The difference between legitimate protestors and shake down artists, as we see from those in Lancashire who tried to get payouts from Cuadrilla for earthquake damages without ever providing even photos, may not be so far after all.