IPCC Destroys Anti-Fracking Activists’ Favorite Climate Claim

Just days after the Sierra Club released a report rehashing its thoroughly debunked argument that natural gas development is “releasing billions of tons of new climate-disrupting carbon pollution into the air,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest assessment, which should finally put this claim to rest.  As the IPCC makes clear, it’s largely because of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas that the United States has been able to reduce its GHG emissions dramatically:

“A key development since AR4 is the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply… this is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.” (Ch. 7, p. 18)

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to remember what Sierra Club Director Michael Brune said about the IPCC when it released its latest, fifth assessment report  (AR5).  He said:

“First, the scientific work reported by the IPCC in the AR5 is the gold standard for getting a big-picture understanding of what’s happening to the climate.” (emphasis added)

Bill McKibben, the head of another activist group, 350.org, has also been calling the IPCC the “gold standard” for years.  Frances Beinecke of the anti-fracking NRDC put it this way: “The IPCC is the most authoritative group in the business.”

What’s also interesting is how these groups have long leveraged the IPCC’s findings to support a ban on fracking.  Take, for instance, a letter from Americans Against Fracking to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, which quotes the IPCC heavily.  From the letter:

“Your comparison of carbon dioxide and methane falls short in several ways: It ignores methane’s potency. You refer to a two decades’ time scale, but fail to mention that methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide using that time scale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent assessment released in September.”

Will they finally face facts, now that the IPCC has definitively debunked them? Or will they merely stop using that talking point?

Of note, the IPCC’s latest assessment also provides a sizable rebuke to anti-fracking researchers Anthony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth.  Just as a refresher: Ingraffea is the activist who famously stated hydraulic fracturing was a “gangplank to more warming,” while Howarth signed a “pledge of resistance” to hydraulic fracturing with other prominent anti-fracking activists, including Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox.  The two have paired up on numerous (highly flawed) studies – including one they released this week – purporting high methane leakage rates during natural gas development.

So what has the world’s most prominent climate science body determined on that?  As the IPCC states,

“While some studies estimate that around 5% of the produced gas escapes in the supply chain, other analyses estimate emissions as low as 1% (Stephenson et al., 2011; Howarth et al.,2011; Cathles et al., 2012). Central emission estimates of recent analyses are 2%─3% (+/‐1%) of the gas produced, where the emissions from conventional and unconventional gas are comparable.” (p. 19; emphasis added)

That’s a far cry from what Ingraffea and Howarth have been claiming over the past few years.  Not only that, but the IPCC states that even “[t]aking into account revised estimates for fugitive emissions, recent lifecycle assessment indicate that specific GHG emission are reduced by one half” as more power plants are powered by natural gas (p. 19).

Over the past several months, anti-fracking activists have been contradicted on their climate arguments  by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, their “climate champion” Secretary of State John Kerry, numerous Obama administration officials, and even President Obama himself.  Back in 2011, a study that was funded by the Sierra Club even rebuffed the Club’s talking points on methane “leaks” from shale development.

Now, even the activists’ “gold standard” – the IPCC – has publicly rebuked their claims.  It is past time for all of us to recognize the science and stop giving a forum to this nonsensical argument that shale gas is a climate disaster. It’s not.

Comments

  1. ilma says:

    I have noticed in recent days, the CAGW cult diverting their attention to Methane from gas wells, presumably to continue to try and get frakking stopped because of that evil ‘carbon pollution’, which, btw, is CO2 (a gas) not carbon (a solid), and is plant food not pollution!

  2. Great post! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

  3. As soon a they admit that fracking is not bad, they will get into quality control of well drilling, I believe, to claim that bad drilling practices are spoiling the pristine aquifers 1000 feet below previously known aquifers not accessed by man since the Holocene period…or some such nonsense, just so they can attack the process instead of deny the result.
    and they will claim that Exxon covered up that, too…

Trackbacks

  1. […] IPCC Destroys Anti-Fracking Activists? Favorite Climate Claim Just days after the Sierra Club released a report rehashing its thoroughly debunked argument that natural gas development is “releasing billions of tons of new climate-disrupting carbon pollution into the air,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest assessment, which should finally put this claim to rest. As the IPCC makes clear, it’s largely because of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas that the United States has been able to reduce its GHG emissions dramatically: “A key development since AR4 is the rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply… this is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.” (Ch. 7, p. 18) __________________ For in nothing shall I have everything. […]

  2. […] this will get (think: Plague, Pestilence and Death) from the IPCC- neglecting to point out that the very same IPCC report cites low-carbon shale gas as one of the options that needs to be kept on the table as a way of reducing CO2 emissions. That is a fossil fuel by the […]

  3. […] found in a study released in September 2013. Studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.N. IPCC, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and many others have also found that methane emissions are […]

  4. […] across the city, despite the fact that even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that it’s thanks to fracking, and our increased use of natural gas, that greenhouse gas emissions […]

  5. […] acknowledge that the IPCC they cite in their “climate advocacy” is the same organization that credits natural gas with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They publicly advocate against climate friendly fuels like natural gas, and even celebrate when […]

  6. […] acknowledge that the IPCC they cite in their “climate advocacy” is the same organization that credits natural gas with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They publicly advocate against climate friendly fuels like natural gas, and even celebrate when […]

  7. […] Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), (which activists have called the “gold standard” for years) has said the “rapid development of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which has increased and […]

  8. […] the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear that due to fracking and natural gas, our country has been able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas […]

  9. […] admits in the inventory what just about every other climate and energy organization (including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has found – that the reason for this drop in emissions is the increased use of natural gas in […]

  10. […] then they should fully support fracking. In 2014, the International Panel on Climate Change admitted that US reductions in CO2 emissions were the result of the introduction of fracking. More fracking […]

  11. […] McKibben have long called the “gold standard” for understanding climate change — has stated fracking brings down greenhouse […]

  12. […] McKibben have long called the “gold standard” for understanding climate change — has stated fracking brings down greenhouse […]

  13. […] McKibben have long called the “gold standard” for understanding climate change — has stated fracking brings down greenhouse […]

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