I have been clear that shale gas can provide us with the means to lower our carbon footprint which is essential for ensuring future generations do not have to deal with devastating effects of runaway climate change.
It was therefore a pleasure to deliver the keynote address at last week’s Shale World UK Conference at the ILEC Conference Centre in Earl’s Court, and speak directly to those involved in the UK shale and onshore oil and gas industry.
Britain used to produce so much gas that we sold it to other countries. But today we are forced to import much of what we need, and that share will continue to rise unless we make the most of our home-grown energy supplies. Our energy security is absolutely vital, but it is also vital that our energy supply is safe, low cost and low carbon.
The big question of the day was very much not whether we want gas or not – the question is how much we want to rely on gas from abroad. Against the back drop of my absolute commitment to removing coal from power generation by 2025, shale gas can provide a bridge to a greener future. I am clear that shale has the potential to improve the UK’s energy security, create jobs, improve the UK’s balance of payments and reduce CO2 emissions.
Home-grown gas can secure our energy future in a time when our traditional sources are in decline, and we are seeking to move away from expensive foreign imports. It can provide jobs for our people and tax revenues for our society, and it can help the UK to decarbonise while we move away from coal to lower-carbon energy sources.
Unlocking the shale gas deep underground is too big an opportunity to pass up. It must be done safely and securely, but we can’t throw that opportunity away.