Ever wondered what is the discussion concerning shale gas about? Check out the comparative analysis of shale gas in China and the US undertaken by Paolo Farah and Riccardo Tremolada.

The debate in the energy sector over the last few years has been marked to a large extent by the exploration of shale gas. It has been very soon branded as a new bridge fuel, more sensitive to environmental concerns than conventional fuels and at the same time capable of accommodating the world's energy needs and society's consumption habits. However, when there is an A, there is quite often also B, and the positive effects of shale gas are inherently connected with its negative side-effects. The reports concerning the occurrence of different kinds of earthquakes in the proximity of shale gas exploration sites coupled with fears concerning the eventual risks of water contamination related with shale gas exploration have assembled many critics of this new fuel. Nevertheless, the States with numerous shale gas sites have an utmost interest to alleviate all possible risks related with shale gas exploration, as this bridge fuel is considered to have also valuable strategic potential. The States with shale gas sites might gain a competitive advantage in global energy markets and some of them might even transform their position from importers of conventional energy fuels to exporters of shale gas. For this reason, the use and extraction of shale gas has a potential to mark a shift in the existing geopolitical relations and enhance the domestic energy security of respective countries. As it seems, there are many reasons and various angles to address the topic of shale gas exploration, the risks, benefits, and potentials connected with this fuel. The chapter written by Paolo Farah and Riccardo Tremolada “A Comparison Between Shale Gas in China and Unconventional Shale Gas Development in the United States: Water, Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development” in the book “China's Influence on Non-Trade Concerns in International Economic Law” addresses this topic from a practical perspective, investigating the implications of shale gas exploration in China and the United States. The chapter applies a quite holistic approach focusing on the impact of shale gas exploration on water and the environment, while taking into account all relevant factors and incentives influencing the approach of the compared countries towards shale gas exploration. Despite their differences, the common denominator of both countries rests not only in their vast shale gas reserves, but also in their essentially decentralized governance structure. The lessons learned from the United States might thus be of benefit also for China. Moreover, the parallel developments in the field of shale gas exploration in the United States and China have made of both countries unwanted allies: an eventual disaster or unsatisfactory implementation of some processes in one country might create a wave of discontent and opposition against shale gas extraction in the other country and undermine its domestic efforts in this field. Even though the dynamics in this regard does not go equally in both directions - the democratic system of the United States is more likely to generate opposition and a wave of public discontent than Chinese authoritarian regime - it might serve as a powerful incentive for China and the United States to coordinate their efforts in this field and, eventually, also for the emergence of a global alliance of shale gas-rich countries.