This week in the UK, the Labour party announced plans to ban fracking in the UK if elected. Although heavily criticised by one of its biggest union donors, it marks a further shift in attitudes against shale gas in Europe.

When the EU’s trade commissioner met Exxon representatives behind closed doors in 2013, his message to the oil men was unambiguous: the US shale revolution is a paradigm shift.

Fracking was seen as a “game changer” for Europe, raising hopes of energy independence through a relatively cheap fossil fuel, with a reduced climate impact.

In 2011, Poland’s then-president Donald Tusk had already pledged to begin commercial fracking in 2014, after geological surveys estimated the country could possess up to 768bn cubic metres of shale reserves.

Hillary Clinton’s US state department was highly supportive. Senior officials described Poland as “a laboratory for testing whether US success in developing shale gas can be repeated in a different country, with different shales and a different regulatory environment.”

Tensions were rising in Ukraine. Energy security and competitiveness were eclipsing the climate as policy-making priorities and no EU energy event in Brussels was complete without a business lobbyist to make the case for shale gas. Private lobby pitches were equally high-powered.

In 2013, an unnamed BP executive warned the EU’s energy commissioner Günther Oettinger that low post-shale US gas prices had damaged the continent’s competitiveness. “Europe needs to exploit indigenous exploration and production resources … including Mediterranean exploration and shale,” the official said in a letter seen by the Guardian.