Shale Gas and The Ugly Truth: It is NOT Green(er)

Shale gas takes us down a dangerous path – Tunisians are battling shale gas proponents who say it is less carbon-intensive and ‘green’

With Tunisians protesting Shell’s shale gas plans and Jordanians set to finalise a deal to build the region’s first oil shale plant by the end of the year, it seems that the region is buying into shale. In Tunisia, shale gas is being marketed as low carbon and more environmentally-friendly but the latest research by scientist shows that it is far from that. Examining emissions in the US after the country began burning less coal due to shale gas production, researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, found that overall emissions had actually gone up. Why? Well, because millions of tonnes of unused coal are being exported to the UK, Europe and Asia.

“Research papers and newspaper column inches have focussed on the relative emissions from coal and gas, “explains Dr John Broderick, lead author on the report from the Tyndall Centre. “However, it is the total quantity of CO2 from the energy system that matters to the climate. Despite lower-carbon rhetoric, shale gas is still a carbon intensive energy source.” US CO2 emissions from domestic energy have declined by 8.6% since a peak in 2005, but researchers warn that more than half of the recent emissions reductions in the energy sector may be displaced overseas by the trade in coal.

Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre notes: “Earlier Tyndall analysis suggests that the role for gas in a low carbon transition is extremely limited, with shale gas potentially diverting substantial funds away from genuinely low and zero carbon alternatives.” So there you have it. Shale gas isn’t the answer to all our prayer – it’s more like a huge distraction from renewables and consequently needs to be ignored.

Jordan’s Oil Shale Plans

Speaking at a news conference, the Jordanian Minister of Finance Suleiman Hafez said the shale deal with an estonian-Malaysian firm Enerfit “will be one of the biggest steps towards the country’s energy independence.” Indeed the project is the first step in a wider programme set to exploit Jordan’s estimated 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves. Other projects include an initiative to extract 15,000 barrels per day in Karak and the construction of a second, 900MW plant. Enerfit hopes to eventually produce up to 38,000 barrels of shale oil per day. via Jordan Times

For more on shale gas and oil shale in MENA see:

Angry Tunisians Protest Shell’s Shale Plans

Jordan Plunges Itself Into Oil Shale Hell

Greenwash Alert: Shell to fund Environmental Education in Jordan

Image of shale gas road sign via

About Arwa Aburawa

Arwa is a Muslim freelance writer who is interested in everything climate change related and how Islam can inspire more people to care for their planet and take active steps to save it while we can. She is endlessly suspicious of all politicians and their ceaseless meetings, especially as they make normal people believe that they are not part of the solution when they are the ONLY solution. Her Indian auntie is her model eco-warrier, and when Arwa is not busy helping out in the neighborhood alleyway garden, swap shopping or attempting fusion vegetarian dishes- with mixed success, she’d like to add- she can be found sipping on foraged nettle tea. You can find all of Arwa’s published work on her freelance site, and check out her musing on her blog. You can contact her @arwa_journalist or via arwa (at)

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