They’re first concerned with some of the immediate impacts fracking has on the community. In much of Europe, there are pre-existing agricultural or tourism industries — really thriving industries and businesses. The industrialization that fracking might bring to these areas would greatly impact, for the worse, these communties’ ways of life. There are also widespread concerns around water contamination, air quality and health. Emerging evidence from the U.S. shows the public health impacts fracking has on people who live close to a site: the closer you live, the worse the impacts seem to be. So there’s both a local concern for livelihood and wellbeing, and also a concern about the impacts fracking has on the environment, public health and the climate.
The Global Frackdown is coming up on October 11. Do you have an event planned?
Geert deCock at a 2013 Global Frackdown event in Brussels, Belgium.
Yes, absolutely! I’ve devised a board game called “Fracking Risk.” We will be in front of the European Parliament in Brussels inviting some members of parliament to come play this game with us. The intention of the game is to spread as many bans across Europe as possible. Overall, it’s a clever way to engage with these lawmakers as well as passer-bys who might not be familiar with this movement.
The European Parliament is absolutely key, as it is the only directly elected institution in the European Union and therefore, it is open to listening to citizens’ concerns. In 2012, one-third of European Parliament members voted in favor of a moratorium on fracking.
You know, in Europe, particularly in the eastern region, there are huge concerns about energy security — that we are dependent on imports of gas from Russia. So our main message, particularly this year, and in this context, is that shale gas will not do anything to resolve our dependence on imports. Our goal should be to get off fossil fuels all together — not to depend on LNG imports from places other than Russia.
We want to focus our attention on renewable energy and energy efficiency as the best way forward. This is the only way to address concerns about energy security, and also concerns about climate change, jobs, and health. These [renewables] are the no-regret options, with all of the associated benefits of better air and water quality and so on.
Right now, the European Union is negotiating 2030 climate and energy targets and so, we want to say: shale gas is not an option. Renewable energy is.
Do you have any words of encouragement for communities looking to stand up against the oil and gas industry?
Looking at the experience in Europe, the key message for banning fracking and stopping it from progressing is that this is a winnable fight. It is becoming clearer by the day. The evidence is growing stronger that fracking has a lot of negative impacts on local communities; it threatens our climate and our health. This is a fight that we can win if we mobilize.
Show your support for the Global Frackdown — an international day of action to ban fracking. Sign up to host an event or join one in a town near you: http://www.globalfrackdown.org