A new study by Cardiff University has revealed that negative perceptions of fracking have also adversely impacted the UK public opinion on technologies that are crucial in the fight against climate change.
It has found that the reputations of technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such as bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCS), direct air capture and enhanced weathering, have been tainted by the criticism of fracking.
The researchers studied responses from groups in England and Wales to find out what the public thinks of these new technologies.
The study showed that many people have become more sceptical about scientific developments, assurances and safety due to their perceptions of fracking.
Some participants stated that politicians and scientists had attempted to pursue fracking at the expense of ordinary people and this has led to a heavy distrust in new technology.
The researchers say the controversy surrounding fracking has caused a ‘ripple effect’, which could result in the development of these vital new technologies being hindered.
Lead researcher Dr Emily Cox said: “For many years, strong political support for fracking left people feeling like they were being ignored so it isn’t particularly surprising that people are concerned about the same thing happening as we try to develop new technologies, including those which are vital to tackle climate change.
“In essence, many of the exchanges we heard during our workshops can be summed up by the phrase ‘But they told us it was safe’.
“This was an early study, and more work is needed to really understand the real-world impact that fracking has had on other technologies. However, this research is an important first step which we hope will teach us about how to approach new technologies in future.
“Tackling climate change is one of the most important challenges facing humanity but if we want to get it right, we need to start genuinely listening to people’s concerns.”