The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is hard at work discussing their first issue: the geopolitics of alternative oil sources. Namely, the committee asks if countries should continue and expand a recent trend of fracking – the process of drilling into the earth to extract underground chemicals. This process has prompted many environmental concerns, as it uses a lot of water, may cause small earth tremors, and deters many energy firms from pursuing renewable energy sources.
The UNEA is ready to tackle this issue head on and are currently discussing seven working papers. Solutions to move away from shale gas range from encouraging countries to invest in renewable energy sources such as “solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal energy, and hydroelectricity” (working paper 3), to encouraging the “implementation of a transitional timeline to confirm hat shale gas be used solely as a ‘bridge fuel'” (working paper 5).
There are also countries like Venezuela, Qatar, and Angola, who think fracking should stop, especially due to the effects it can have on water supplies, but unlike others, believe that there is no need to move towards green energy because “using petroleum is good where it is.”
On the other end of the spectrum are countries like Argentina, the United Kingdom and the United States, who believe, as they open in their position paper (working paper 1) that the contributing countries believe the shale gas “is one of the best options to replace fossil fuels, but must be regulated.” To that end, they have created a commission to “sponsor scientists who will assess the damage hydraulic fracturing could inflict on the environment” and standardized regulations that all fracking countries must follow.
While these solutions are well thought out, and bring together many countries, there are, as in any committee, many similarities across papers. Because of this, when all seven working papers are presented in front of committee, delegates begin to point out minute differences rather than collaborating.
Seven working papers represent an astounding amount of ideas, but in the end, the Environment Assembly can only pass one resolution. To do so, they’ll have to narrow down their ideas and learn to compromise across papers.