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Energy and Climate Change Committee - Priorities for Holding Government to Account

Following the general election, the Energy and Climate Change Committee have launched an inquiry entitled 'Priorities for holding government to account'. Details of the inquiry can be found on the committee website. This submission, prepared by the Geological Society, can be found below:

Submitted 13 August 2015

  1. Effective public communication about climate change is vitally important. Currently, the science underpinning public discourse on climate change is dominated by a limited range of disciplinary approaches and evidence bases making it vulnerable to attack. The geological record contains abundant evidence of how Earth’s climate has changed over hundreds of millions of years, including during periods of rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon levels (see Paying greater attention to this independent evidence base has the potential to deepen public understanding of climate change, and to add resilience to efforts to build public trust.
  2. Our responses to inquiries into shale gas ( have addressed the geoscience of shale gas exploration and extraction, local and global environmental risks, and energy security. Fossil fuels will remain a crucial part of the energy mix in the medium term, however rapidly we decarbonise the economy. The UK has substantial shale resources, and relevant expertise and infrastructure to extract them safely, given sufficient care and regulatory oversight. Alongside other domestic energy sources shale gas could contribute to our energy security.
  3. In light of the continued use of fossils fuels, rapid development of CCS is crucial to meeting decarbonisation obligations and avoiding dangerous climate change. The significant storage potential under the North Sea and the UK’s strong research base and history of academic/hydrocarbons industry collaboration place the UK ideally to take a leading role in global development of CCS. Full chain demonstration at scale and development of storage capacity are urgently required. (
  4. Nuclear power may also contribute to decarbonising our energy system. Irrespective of new build, a long-term solution for management of the UK’s substantial volumes of legacy waste is essential. The geological community will play a vital role in siting and implementing a geological disposal facility (GDF), and the Geological Society is closely involved in the revised siting process. (