Abstract

The significant growth in production of natural gas from shale formations constitutes one of the most important developments in the energy sector, which has been made possible by a reduction of production costs and the overcoming of technological barriers. Recent advances in fracturing (also known as “fracking”) and horizontal drilling technologies have led to a dramatic increase in shale gas production in the United States, which resulted in energy experts describing shale gas as a “bridge fuel” to carbon-free renewable resources as our primary source of energy. Furthermore, shale formations are found in almost every region of the globe; thus the potential for shale gas development is of great importance. Although shale gas represents a revolutionary element in the global energy framework, several regulatory and environmental concerns related to its extraction and production processes have been raised, in particular about the use of hydraulic fracturing fluids and the consequential risk of drinking water contamination. As the “shale gas revolution” that took place in the United States has highlighted, human health and environmental concerns continue to dog shale gas development. In that respect, given the global scope of its potential, it is crucial to ensure that the development of shale gas resources will be carried out in an environmentally sound manner. China is aware of the importance of unconventional gas as a carbon-friendly energy source and pivotal element in achieving the country’s future energy and environmental objectives. As it is the country with the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions, China’s capacity to substitute coal with cheaper gas as its primary electricity generating fuel has the potential to represent a huge step toward global warming mitigation. However, China lacks comprehensive legal instruments capable of addressing the potential environmental hazards of shale gas extraction, and suffers from weak enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.
Full Paper
Paolo Davide Farah
Founder, President and Director

Summary

The significant growth in production of natural gas from shale formations constitutes one of the most important developments in the energy sector, which has been made possible by a reduction of production costs and the overcoming of technological barriers. Recent advances in fracturing (also known as “fracking”) and horizontal drilling technologies have led to a dramatic increase in shale gas production in the United States, which resulted in energy experts describing shale gas as a “bridge fuel” to carbon-free renewable resources as our primary source of energy. Furthermore, shale formations are found in almost every region of the globe; thus the potential for shale gas development is of great importance. Although shale gas represents a revolutionary element in the global energy framework, several regulatory and environmental concerns related to its extraction and production processes have been raised, in particular about the use of hydraulic fracturing fluids and the consequential risk of drinking water contamination. As the “shale gas revolution” that took place in the United States has highlighted, human health and environmental concerns continue to dog shale gas development. In that respect, given the global scope of its potential, it is crucial to ensure that the development of shale gas resources will be carried out in an environmentally sound manner. China is aware of the importance of unconventional gas as a carbon-friendly energy source and pivotal element in achieving the country’s future energy and environmental objectives. As it is the country with the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions, China’s capacity to substitute coal with cheaper gas as its primary electricity generating fuel has the potential to represent a huge step toward global warming mitigation. However, China lacks comprehensive legal instruments capable of addressing the potential environmental hazards of shale gas extraction, and suffers from weak enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

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The growth in green energy investments worldwide is an important reality and rising trends are to be expected in the future. When designing the proper policy agenda for renewable energy investments, we must take into consideration the legal, regulatory and political frameworks in both developing and developed countries. gLAWcal aims at analyzing national approaches on the matter, combining scientific, social and economic considerations. At the same time, it wishes to develop partnerships among European and non-European institutions, so as to deliver an integrated approach on sustainable energy investments, combining global and local perspectives.
The need to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders or the resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology are topical issues that affects international relations. It is crucial for developing countries to achieve a substantive degree of IPR protection, not only for the promotion of creativity and innovation, but also for the maximization of technology transfer from developed countries. gLAWcal examines IPR regimes and their impact on competition with the objective of providing a better understanding of the competition-dimension of IP rights. Intellectual property rights are also extremely crucial to sustainable development in manifold ways, from the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural products, to access to essential medicines. Our organization focuses on the policy frameworks and institutions shaping debate and policy development in this sector.
In the last fifteen years, all around the world there has been a tendency to put much hope in the rise of civil society, its emergence being welcomed as a sign of progress towards a more democratic system. Many places in the world are today laboratories for change thanks to bottom-up movements supported by civil society organizations. By looking at contentious politics and how they converge and interact with institutional politics, we can better understand what directions a country’s political system and its governance is taking. gLAWcal supports collective forms of actions aimed at the creation of better societies, on many social issues, and in various geographical areas.
Improvements in people’s economic wellbeing have increased citizen demands for a cleaner environment. As societies undergo the transition to industrial development and modernity, their citizens begin to concern themselves with needs and wants beyond the material, including the protection of the environment. However, growing levels of environmental consciousness and awareness are often not matched by proper environmental legislation enforcement at the local level. gLAWcal looks at environmental rights developments in developing countries, and aims at delivering policy advices and capacity building support in areas where law implementation is lacking. With this purpose, our organization seeks to improve environmental protection not only for the benefit of the populations directly affected, but also for the sake of the entire planet.
Globalization, and the consequent international exchange of goods, services, cultures, ideas, has brought increased wealth for many on the one hand, while exerting pressure on core societal values both in developed and developing countries on the other hand. Public opinion and policy makers have warned against the threat posed by international trade and liberalization to policies and measures meant to protect the so-called non-trade concerns (NTC), such as environmental protection, sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labour rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food safety, access to knowledge, consumer interests and animal welfare.When trying to protect these issues, developed countries have put into place trade measures that have encountered resistance or dissent in developing countries, being perceived as protectionist actions or as an attempt by the importing countries to impose their social, ethical and cultural values on exporting countries.The challenge of integrating Non-Trade Concerns embodies the willingness to overcome national egoisms and embrace universally a number of fundamental values, creating an ethical and juridical platform to win over cultural differences and issues of national sovereignty. gLAWcal’s research aims at identifying ways to protect NTC within international economic law. By shedding new light on developing countries’ trends towards inclusion of NTC in the domestic and international arena, gLAWcal provides a comprehensive perspective on law enforcement, creating a bridge between the international and the domestic realities.

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