As I mentioned in my last post, I love cycling, but I spent the first day of the Tour de Yorkshire (TDY) protesting the multinational chemical company, Ineos.
Anti-fracking activists from all over Yorkshire assembled in Doncaster Marketplace for the start of the 2019 TDY. The mood was good, better than the weather on the most part. Many of the protesters were, like me, huge fans of cycling and many of the fans shared our concerns about fracking. Not that you’d know this if you watched the television reports which, as usual, preferred to offer sound-bites than information. There was only one vocal argument. It was an argument between some ladies who agreed that Ineos were no good for the TDY, but disagreed about booing the cyclists themselves… unsurprisingly, that single argument was the bit Calendar news focused on.
I’m not going to go over the arguments against fracking here, there are better places on the internet for that. But I do feel – after Jim Ratcliffe (the richest man in the UK and owner of Ineos) tried to suggest on Calendar news that he simply wanted to provide our region with affordable energy – that we need to be clear on why Ineos has interests in fracking… and it has absolutely nothing to do with heating your home.
Ineos aren’t interested in energy, they’re interested in ethane. Ethane, the so-called “wet gas” component of natural gas, is used as a feedstock for ethylene production. Ethylene, in turn, is used for the production of polyethylene. Yes, that’s right, the single-use plastic which is littering our land, polluting our oceans and ruining our health (not to mention the health of our planet).
Polyethelene is an ecological disaster. It can be made from renewable sources, but at the moment it is more likely to be made from petroleum or natural gas. Which is the real reason Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos wants to frack ‘God’s own county’.
Polyethylene is not readily biodegradable, so it accumulates in landfill and in our oceans. Ironically, when Team Ineos were still Team Sky they wore shirts which campaigned against ocean plastic. If polyethylene finds its way into an incinerator (or if it is simply burned by the general public) it is likely to result in dangerous gaseous emissions. The only safe way to handle oil or gas based polyethylene is not to produce it in the first place.
Plastic pollution is now widely accepted as a vitally important problem which needs addressing. Even McDonald’s (a company not usually celebrated for their ecological awareness) are doing their bit by changing from plastic to paper straws. Which is why Jimmy boy wants to distract you from this aspect of his business by talking about energy. Not that fracking for fuel is much better. Continuing to burn any fossil fuel is a pretty stupid thing to do if you want your kids to enjoy the future they deserve.
Yesterday, thanks to the hard work of people like Greta Thunberg, and groups like Youth Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion (XR), the UK government became the first in the world to declare an ‘environmental and climate emergency‘. If they are serious about their intentions then we must switch over to renewable energy sources sooner rather than later. Even if energy were the the main focus of fracking – which is certainly not Ineos’ main concern – we would be taking a huge step backwards when we should be de-carbonising our culture as soon as humanly possible if we are to have any hope of fighting climate change.
The first demand of XR is ‘Tell The Truth’. But it seems as if the mainstream media are still unwilling even to seek the truth, let alone tell it. Until they do, it will be up to the activists to ensure that companies like Ineos don’t go unchallenged in their pollution, their deception and their greenwashing.
Ineos. Toxic to the planet. Toxic to the tour.