Credit: David Hawgood
There could be a wealth of shale oil resources in the
south of England, according to a report released last month. But
despite the increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with
ramping up oil production, the report barely featured in print
newspapers' climate change coverage.
That's in stark contrast to a similar report on shale
gas released almost 12 months ago.
In late May, the British Geological Survey (BGS) released a
report suggesting there could be as much as
4.4 billion barrels of oil locked in the UK's shale
Shale gas has been a big story, and you might expect news of the
report to filter into climate change coverage, particularly since
the climate implications of a BGS
report on shale gas last June had a significant
But that hasn't been the case. This just wasn't a climate change
story - and the lack of shale gas made it a much smaller media
moment that earlier in the year. Our analysis of all articles
printed in the UK's major papers shows there were 349 mentioning
climate change in April, significantly down on last year.
That's not to say climate change wasn't mentioned at all in
relation to the report.
Guardian notes that a key objection to fracking - the
method for extracting fuel from shale rock - is that it can
"accelerate climate change" as potent greenhouse gases leak from
the wells. Likewise, the
Daily Mail carries a quote from a Greenpeace activist
objecting to the practice as it adds to "carbon pollution" - an
alternative term for increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
None of the other major daily newspapers reported the climate
implications of the report's findings, however. Instead, they
focused on a set of
policies to compensate homeowners near fracking sites.
Oil is principally used for heating or as a transport, not for
power generation. As such, there isn't any debate about it
displacing more carbon intensive fossil fuels in the power sector,
as there is with
shale gas. The community payoffs announced alongside BGS's
estimate may simply have been a more obvious angle.