WRI’s early work on shale gas sought to define the shale gas lifecycle and to evaluate its lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, with an aim of finding ways to reduce upstream methane emissions. This work has been summarized in Defining the shale gas life cycle and Clearing the Air.

WRI, through our China Office and together with partners, is presently working to raise technical awareness of environmental impacts of shale gas in China, and to inform the development of best practices and regulations to mitigate impacts. There is a window of opportunity to provide transparent information and tools that will ensure development proceeds in a manner that is (1) consistent with a low-carbon development pathway, and (2) is overseen by rules that protect the environment. The effort features international collaboration and sharing of knowledge gained from the U.S. experience, paired with research and analysis to examine how global low-carbon development goals can be best met as shale gas from China becomes deployed.

WRI is also working on a Global Shale Gas Basins Water Quantity Risk Assessment, which aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the potential water quantity-related risks to shale gas development, through hydraulic fracturing, across major shale gas basins worldwide.

This assessment will provide a global overview of visual and quantitative information on the major water quantity-related risks to shale gas development worldwide through the mapping of known reserves on Aqueduct’s global maps. The results will inform financial institutions and governments investing.

Photo Credit: Penn State, Flickr