Shale gas has 'no role' as a transition fuel on the way to a low carbon economy, experts have warned
It is "categorically clear" that the UK cannot develop shale gas if it is to meet international commitments to tackle climate change, MPs have heard.
The shale gas industry has barely begun in the UK and gas company Cuadrilla is currently waiting to hear whether it can resume the first exploration of shale resources in Lancashire, which was suspended following two minor earthquakes.
But concerns have been raised over the impact of exploiting unconventional gas resources on greenhouse gas emissions.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, told the Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee that, if properly managed, shale gas had 10% lower emissions than liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from Qatar or gas piped from Russia.
He said: "From an emissions point of view, it makes sense for the UK to produce its own indigenous gas rather than LNG from Qatar or pipelines from Russia."
Shell's Graham Tiley added that shale gas could play a role in reducing emissions by replacing coal, saying: "In our view, a switch from coal to gas is the most important thing one can do at the moment in terms of reducing emissions."
But Professor Kevin Anderson, of the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester, warned shale gas had no role as a transition fuel on the way to a low carbon economy if the UK was to meet international goals to curb climate change.
The UK has committed to taking steps to keep global temperature rises to no more than 2C and for developed countries to make a greater share of the efforts to cut emissions.
Prof Anderson said: "It is absolutely categorically clear that shale gas cannot be compatible with the UK's international targets."
He added: "If we are serious about climate change, if we quantify it in relation to our international commitments, we can be absolutely categorical shale gas cannot be a transition fuel."