Cuadrilla: back to the past?

However new the technology, Cuadrilla appears to be operating in the last century. The Cuadrilla website includes a section on how insignificant their earthquakes actually are and why water supply contamination just cannot occur.

Unconvinced, the citizens of Balcombe and environmental campaigners have been on the move. They are concerned about the direct impacts of fracking and the damage that releasing another source of fossil fuel will do to the environment.

What Cuadrilla has failed to do is properly acknowledge the concerns of the communities it impacts, going far beyond donations to local charities while they are drilling. It is not just a matter of going by the rules with the planning process – if they hadn’t done that they would have been stopped long ago. It is about taking stakeholders seriously. The issues raised by local community reaction and interaction and the views of NGOs are poorly represented on their website.

This could be BP back in the 1980s. The lessons that Shell and BP seemed to take on board for a short while in the late 1990’s and the first few years of this century- about transparency and stakeholder engagement – appear to have left little lasting legacy. BP was the first energy company to acknowledge the problem of climate change, breaking ranks with the industry at the time. This was during the John Browne era, when BP seemed to want to make progress towards sustainability.

The sad irony is that John Browne is now the Chair of Cuadrilla.


Constructing the Compact

The Global Compact is facing a real challenge in its handling of the complaint against PetroChina by NGOs.

If it fudges the issue, its credibility will be undermined.  If it de-lists PetroChina, it will appear to be going backwards. So if PetroChina will not respond constructively, then perhaps the Global Compact should.

One root of the problem is the structure of the Global Compact.  It combines setting the standard with judging those who try to apply it.  This gives it the potential for conflicts of interest.  Dealing with such issues is a well-trodden path.  Maybe it is time the Global Compact set out on that journey.