Why is the role of shale gas crucial towards a zero-carbon society? Chapter 16 of China NTCs presents the case of China is a comparative perspective.

Shale gas has opened up to a revolution which has involved not only the United States but also the rest of the world. In chapter 16 of China NTCs, the issue of hydraulic fracturing (the method used to extract shale resources along with horizontal drilling) is studied in detail, with a comparative perspective between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. According to some studies, China is expected to have the world’s largest exploitable reserves of shale gas. The country knows the importance of such a resource, especially in consideration of its future energy and environmental objectives. Since it has registered the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the possibility to substitute coal with a cleaner resource represents a huge starting point toward a greener revolution. The use of the adjective cleaner is not improper here: it has, after all, to be remembered that shale gas is cleaner than coal but, still, it is not a totally green resource. For this reason, it is usually called the bridge fuel towards a zero-carbon society, meaning that its use is expected to be characterized by a transitional nature. The article emphasizes the potential of the recent product-sharing agreements with foreign investors. Firstly, the perspective of cooperation and coordination, for example through common initiatives between the US and China, and the importance of transparency are deeply taken into consideration in the article. Secondly, the article aims at considering the current legal system and fiscal policies of the state, trying to identify the ideal framework in order to favor a shale gas revolution. Furthermore, the authors include the reason for concern in relation to fracking, in particular, the risk of water pollution and the absence of adequate predictive evaluation regulatory instruments and industry standards. The last section of the article deals with the shale gas impacts on the global supply and demand energy mix and market, concluding that a comprehensive legal and regulatory change is necessary in China in order to increase energy security, to achieve the country’s energy and environmental objectives and to ensure beneficial economic growth and social development.