The sudden and unexpected development of shale gas has the potential to accelerate or hinder the transition to sustainability, depending on how it is handled. Sustainable development is a useful evaluative framework for shale gas development. It would have us analyze its environmental, social, economic, and security dimensions at the same time, and look for ways to make all four dimensions mutually reinforcing. This article suggests that sustainable shale gas development: 1) requires a sophisticated and comprehensive regulatory system to protect the environment and public health as well as a legal and policy framework capable of both ensuring significant social and economic benefits and ensuring that no one is made socially or economically worse off in absolute terms; 2) must be nested in ambitious national and international energy and climate change laws to ensure that it is a bridge fuel to a sustainable future, and does not delay or divert from that objective; and 3) must occur within a political and legal system that is committed to accelerating the transition to sustainability. By focusing on the issues that are harder to address, most prominently climate disruption, we gain a better understanding of how, or whether, shale gas development can accelerate the transition.
- sustainable development,
- shale gas,
- greenhouse gas emissions,
- land use
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_may/85/