The report by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, looking at the potential greenhouse gas emissions from the production of shale gas in Britain, suggested emissions would be similar to conventionally produced domestic gas but lower than for imported gas or coal.
"The emissions from shale gas in the United Kingdom will be similar to those of liquefied natural gas," report co-author David MacKay, the department's chief scientific adviser, told the BBC.
Environmental groups have expressed concern about the extraction of natural gas from shale, citing the risk of small earthquakes and the potential impact on water supplies.
But British Secretary of State Ed Davey said shale gas could benefit the country through energy security and jobs
"Gas, as the cleanest fossil fuel, is part of the answer to climate change, as a bridge in our transition to a green future, especially in our move away from coal," Davey told the Royal Society.
"We have to face it: North Sea gas production is falling and we are become increasingly reliant on gas imports. So United Kingdom shale gas could increase our energy security by cutting those imports."
"Home-grown gas, just like home-grown renewables and new nuclear, also provides jobs for our people and tax revenues for our society," he said.
Leila Deen, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, disagreed, saying Davey was "endorsing the use of a fuel that remains highly polluting, damages our countryside and [which] scientists say must be largely left underground."
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