25 July 2011, 19:05 BST
The UK government should put a moratorium on shale gas operations until the environmental implications are fully understood, a report says.
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research report comes amid reports a firm has found reserves in Lancashire.
In the US, officials are investigating claims that shale gas drilling has polluted water supplies.
However, UK ministers have rejected a moratorium, saying that drilling for shale gas does not pose a threat.
"We are aware that there have been reports from US of issues linked to some shale gas projects," a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said.
"However, we understand that these are only in a few cases and that Cuadrilla (the firm testing for shale gas in Lancashire) has made it clear that there is no likelihood of environmental damage and that it is applying technical expertise and exercising the utmost care as it takes drilling and testing forward."
The Tyndall report was funded by the Co-operative, an institutional group that invests in oil firms.
It has been pressuring firms to cease investing in shale gas until its impacts are fully understood. Extracting shale gas involves pumping chemicals underground to help release the gas from shale rocks.
The Co-operative is concerned that the Decc has supported shale gas prematurely. A consultation on the matter is currently underway between MPs and an energy and climate change committee.
Head of the organization?s social goals, Paul Monaghan, also said no shale should be split until legislation is fully developed.
Shale gas extraction was first discovered in the US. It involves drilling into the rock and creating small explosions. Chemicals, water and sand are then pumped into the site to release the trapped gas.
The US had been preparing to import gas, but experts say the process may now ensure supplies for 100 years.
Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University who wrote the report, additionally believes the shale gas should be left in the ground. "In an energy hungry world any new fossil fuel resource will only lead to additional carbon emissions. In the case of shale gas there is also a significant risk its use will delay the introduction of renewable energy alternatives."
The reserves have only become available because of breakthroughs in both drilling techniques and chemical products but it has transformed the energy market in America and sent the price of natural gas plunging downwards.
Britain and the rest of Europe have much higher gas prices currently and a link with oil prices have sent them to very high levels. Oil has been closing in on $100 per barrel in recent weeks, two and a half times higher than the price seen two years ago.
Source: Green Energy UK