The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...
- WWF Global
- Central African Republic
- Central America
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- European Policy Office
WWF-South Africa is deeply disappointed by cabinet’s decision to lift the moratorium on shale gas mining, a decision which was based on the report by a Department of Mineral Resources task team established to investigate the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’.
“We maintain our skepticism on the issue of fracking, and are of the view that the moratorium should have remained in place so that environmental externalities, such as the water and carbon footprint, associated with shale gas exploration could be properly interrogated,” says Saliem Fakir WWF-SA’s Living Planet Unit Head.
WWF-SA is also concerned about the lack of transparency and democratic process involved in cabinet’s decision and calls on the DMR to release the findings of the report. Despite the assurances of DMR Minister Susan Shabangu that the South African public would have the opportunity to view and comment on the task team’s report before any decisions on fracking would be made, the report was not made public ahead of its submission to cabinet for a final decision.
“The decision to grant exploration licenses for a process that is banned or heavily restricted in at least 155 instances globally requires much more transparent and careful investigation than it has received. The shale gas issue has been handled in an appalling manner. That the task team’s brief and findings have still not been disclosed is extremely disconcerting.”
“Since a decision has already been made, the intention to now hold a series of public consultations defeats the point of stakeholder engagement. Stakeholders should have had the opportunity to raise their concerns at a public hearing, contributing to a carefully thought-through position by government. A wide range of perspectives is of value to decision-making processes, particularly around an issue as controversial as this,” asserts Fakir.
The lifting of the moratorium on fracking places some of South Africa’s sensitive ecological systems under serious threat. WWF is not convinced that adequate investigation has been made into the environmental footprint of shale-gas mining, a task that should have been allocated to an independent scientific panel including international experts.
Even if environmental safeguards were to exist on paper, there is no certainty that companies awarded rights to explore will be enforced adequately to ensure that they are complying and making the necessary provisions to deal with environmental damage and rehabilitation. In the course of WWF-SA’s research on coal and water, and mining, it has become evident that the minerals sector has a poor reputation for compliance and adherence to environmental safeguards. Our on-going findings instil very little confidence that proper governance will prevail.