Russia makes about $300 billion in gas and oil exports each year. For a tiny tenth of a billion dollars it fed western activists in NGOs* and successfully stopped fracking development in the UK (and some parts of Australia apparently). It’s what you call a stupendous investment.
Matt Ridley lays out just how game changing the discovery of shale fracking could have been for the UK, and how easily the politicians and system was exploited and fell over:
The Plot against Fracking, The Critic
When the shale gas revolution first came along, some environmentalists welcomed it, and rightly so. …
But then the vested interests got to work. Renewable energy promoters panicked at the thought of cheap and abundant gas.
The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies.
It’s all so predictable…
The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.
Stories of tapwater on fire and other ludicrous misinformation fed doubts and protests, and the conservatives folded like a pop-up beach tent.
As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition, worrying about what posh greens might think, rather than working-class bill-payers and job-seekers. A golden opportunity was squandered for Britain to get hold of home-grown, secure, cheap and relatively clean energy. We don’t need fossil fuels, the politicians thought, we’re going for net zero in 2050! But read the small print, chaps: the only way to have zero-emission transport and heating, so says the Committee on Climate Change, is to use lots of hydrogen. And how do they say most of the hydrogen is to be made? From gas.
The industry was badgered into agreeing to silly targets:
Despite being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw misleading claims about shale gas, [Friends of the Earth] kept up a relentless campaign of misinformation, demanding more delay and red tape from all-too-willing civil servants. The industry, with Cuadrilla fated to play the part of Monsanto, agreed to ridiculously unrealistic limits on what kinds of tremors they were allowed after being promised by the government that the limits would be changed later — a promise since broken. Such limits would stop most other industries, even road haulage, in their tracks.
It wouldn’t have worked if the West had good media, and if schools taught students how to spot con artists, witchcraft and fake reasoning.
*NGO’s meaning Non Government Organisations (which are often really more like a wing of the State, but without the accountability…)