Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish
As a society we have recently begun to understand that our industrial activity is destabilizing our planetary climate. We are likely to already be at a point of no return with respect to this de-stabilization. Largely, climate impacting emissions such as CO2 but also non-CO2 contaminants such as methane gas, HFCs commonly found in refrigerants, black carbon and other greenhouse gases are the main cause of creating this new “anthropocene”, an era where human beings define geological times.
CHRE is working on both the “adaptation” and the “mitigation” climate change agendas. This work focuses on visibilizing human rights vulnerability caused by climate change and pushing for more human rights approaches to dealing with climate change, identifying climate impacts and steering public policy to reduce impacts to the more vulnerable communities.
“Mitigation” has to do with identifying industrial activity that impacts the climate and placing public policy and legislation reforms in place to reduce those impacts. In this arena CHRE has identified the oil and gas sector, and more specifically the evolution and expansion of this sector into new non-conventional ways of extracting fossil fuels which have recently become popular. Specifically we are talking about “hydraulic fracturing” or fracking which is a new technological innovation of the oil and gas sector in which geological formations are perforated through deep drilling, placed under very high stress through water pressure, and injected with solvents and other chemicals, in order to release source gas and petroleum. This method makes previously untapable source reservoirs of oil and gas, now extractable.
In a world which has begun a path towards developing renewable energies through solar, wind and tide energy generation, this innovation in the oil and gas sector has effectively and unfortunately pushed our oil and gas horizon much further into the future, and created incentives for society NOT to move to a mix of energies based on a greater percentage of renewables in the mix.
Fracking is a new risk to water reserves and is quickly evolving and going beyond borders. While fracking was traditionally an activity carried out nearly exclusively on US soil, the practice has now moved beyond the US border and is penetrating a number of countries. Russia, China, Poland, Spain, the UK, Mexico, Australia and Argentina, and many others, have been found to contain enormous non-conventional oil and gas reserves where fracking could be used to extract this fossil fuel. Argentina, in contrast to all of these others, is the one place on the planet, where in addition to the US, the industry has actually moved forward full force and made substantial investments to develop a significant fracking market. Argentina has been overrun lately with billions of dollars of investment in exploration and non- conventional oil and gas extraction. Argentina, specifically the Patagonia region, known for its unique and very sensitive ecological environment, is the target of this activity.
Given the little information in the public domain, including amongst policy makers, legislatures, stakeholder communities, and other social actors about hydraulic fracturing, and practically NO information in Spanish, CHRE has decided to generate and disseminate information to society about the risks and impacts of hydraulic fracturing, focused primarily on the risks to water resources and to climate change. We are also reaching out to other colleagues in other countries in this effort, in order to generate discussion and build knowledge in communities such as Colombia, Mexico, Russia and others.
CHRE’s objectives on fracking related activities include:
- to deepen social awareness of the risks of hydraulic fracturing operations,
- to improve local and national laws and regulations to control hydraulic fracturing, as well as
- to promote community access to remedies and recourse in cases involving social and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations.
Some of our recent achievements and reports include:
– Human Rights and the Business of Fracking: Applying the The UN Guiding Principles to Hydraulic Fracturing
– Fracking Argentina (available only in Spanish)
– Fracking for Legislative Authorities (available only in Spanish)
– An up to date website on the evolution of hydraulic fracturing in Argentina and around the world