John Selwyn Gummer

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John Selwyn Gummer is a former Conservative Cabinet Minister who served as Environment Secretary under Prime Minister John Major.

Gummer was raised to the peerage as Baron Deben in 2010.

Lord Deben is Chair of the Committee on Climate Change.

Pro-fracking views

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

Anti-frackers are 'extremists'

Lord Deben has characterised anyone suggesting that fracking is "devastatingly damaging" as a far-left "extremist," holding "nonsensical" views associated with "Trotskyite" dogma.

According to Nafeez Ahmad, academic and executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development:

'Deben's comments demonstrate the regressive mindset behind the British government's private collaboration with shale gas industry executives to "manage the British public' hostility to fracking," as revealed in official emails analysed by Damien Carrington. The emails exposed the alarming extent to which government is "acting as an arm of the gas industry," compounding earlier revelations that Department of Energy and Climate Change employees involved in drafting UK energy policy have been seconded from UK gas corporations. [1]

Lord Deben has dismissed claims from Britain’s green lobby that hydraulic fracturing – known as “fracking” – could cause considerable damage.

“It just isn’t true that fracking is going to destroy the environment and the world is going to come to an end if you frack. And yet to listen to some people on the green end, that’s what they say,” Lord Deben (John Gummer) told The Times.
“I’m in favour of it. The carbon budgets have already assumed that we are going to use gas well on through the 2020s and into the 30s. There will be a need for gas [and] much better to have it from us and as soon as we can because I do genuinely think people ought to be worried about the security of our energy supplies,” he said.

However Lord Deben declined to tell the Times whether he would favour fracking within a few hundred yards of his home in Suffolk. [2]

'Myths and realities'

In February 2014 Lord Deben took part in an event held by the APPG on Energy Costs, entitled "Myths and Reality of Fracking". The meeting notes reported that:

Lord Deben began by explaining that the idea that the CCC had given the “green light” to fracking was “curious”; the committee’s view was that there was simply no fundamental scientific reason for fracking not to be acceptable.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Lord Deben argued that the committee had been dragged into the argument that there are lots of fossil fuels that had already been discovered, all of which could not be used without disastrous effects on the climate; and therefore, there was no need to look for any new fossil fuel resources.
He explained that fracking was acceptable in the context of tough environmental regulation, and where costs were reasonable. He also said it was worth considering the fact that much of the best areas for fracking are in the south, with no history of industrial activity and low water supplies, amongst other issues.
Lord Deben acknowledged the difficulties fracking projects faced in gaining local support, needing permission from authorities and buy-in from local communities, amongst other things.
Further, he made clear that much was still unknown about the market, that claims made by either side in the argument had to be considered in this context; claims about cheaper gas should be considered in the light of the fact that gas prices are regional, so there would always be a European price for gas and therefore fracking would not make gas cheaper in the UK. Additionally, the high cost of fracking processes meant the price of the product would be high. Fracking in the UK would not be considered a solution to all problems, but it would be part of the mix, all contained within the same carbon budget.
...Lord Deben recommending that that there needed to be more compulsion and regulation than had been the case in the US. It was made clear that these things are worked out in practice. Whilst there are issues about water, there is a priority system about how water is used, fracking would simply fit into that system.
Lord Deben recommended that the environmental movement concentrate on the big issues on climate change and not focus on the marginal issues and, in the bigger picture, fracking could be categorised as a marginal issue. [3]

Links to Coca Cola

One of David Cameron's first moves on becoming Tory leader was to set up a Quality of Life Policy Group to spend 18 months developing a new, greener environment policy. The group is chaired by former Environment Secretary John Gummer "backed up" by new Tory parliamentary hopeful, Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist magazine.
There was scepticism from the outset about how the pair would get on, especially given their divergent views on nuclear power (Goldsmith is dead against; Gummer - who has the Sizewell plant on the edge of his Suffolk Coastal constituency, likes to be considered "thoughtfully pro-nuclear").
But this isn't the only issue likely to cause acrimony. Goldsmith's Ecologist has been championing a campaign by the organization Karma Banque to drive down the share price of the Coca Cola Company. Karma Banque, the brainchild of green activist, Max Keiser, organizes "smart boycotts" of companies it considers unethical, and, at the same time, sells the company's shares short, inviting hedge funds to pile in and do the same. Every time the company's share price drops, Karma Banque collects a profit, which it pledges to use to help the world's poor.
Goldsmith has been scathing about Coca Cola's activities in India, accusing the company of forcing people to travel eight miles a day to find clean drinking water, and says he thinks Karma Banque might be able to wipe close to 2 billion off Coca Cola's market value. Karma Banque certainly seems to be having an effect. Last week Goldman Sachs adjusted its rating for Coca Cola downward, forecasting reduced demand in Europe. And to whom can the rattled soft drinks manufacturer turn for help as its stock values tumble? Step forward Sir John Gummer, chairman of Coca Cola's UK Environmental Advisory Board.[4]

Revolving door

Connections

Affiliations

Resources

Notes

  1. Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist, The Guardian, 2014
  2. Amy Willis, Britain must press on with fracking, says Lord Deben, The Telegraph, 1:50PM GMT 10 Dec 2013
  3. Phil Royal, 11/02/14 APPG on ENergy Costs Meeting Notes, "Myths and Reality of Fracking" with Lord Deben,Chair of the Committee on Climate Change and a presentation from Ashutosh Shastri on how fracking may affect energy costs, both in the UK and elsewhere.
  4. Private Eye, 1150, 20 January - 2 February 2006
  5. Lord Deben, Parliament.UK, accessed 18 December 2014
  6. Sarah Priddy, PIL: Current Members Related to Other Current or Former Members - Commons Library Standard Note, 13 September 2013.