Testimony by Sarah Forbes Before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, January 26, 2012

“China’s Prospects for Shale Gas and Implications for the U.S.”

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the deliberations of this Commission. My name is Sarah Forbes, and I am a Senior Associate for the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute. I am also manager of the World Resources Institute’s Shale Gas Initiative. The World Resources Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan environmental think tank that goes beyond research to provide practical solutions to the world’s most urgent environmental and development challenges. We work in partnership with scientists, businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations in more than seventy countries to provide information, tools, and analysis to provide for human well-being.

I am delighted to speak with you today about China’s prospects for shale gas and the implications for the United States. The United States and China share an interest in the domestic and international development of shale gas resources. In this testimony I will describe the state of China’s shale gas industry as well as the governmental policies that will drive its future development in China. I will discuss the implications of U.S.-China business-to-business partnerships as well as government-to-government cooperation―including the risks and opportunities such cooperation could yield. I will also describe how shale gas development in China and the United States changes the global dynamics of energy security. In conclusion, I will provide recommendations for future actions Congress and this Commission can take. In the interest of time, I have limited the scope of my testimony to a discussion of the implications of shale gas development in China on the U.S. and China.

Considering the speed with which shale gas has shifted the U.S. energy outlook1, this is an important moment to consider the implications of the development of China’s shale gas resources. Development of shale gas in China will shift future global energy dynamics. How it is done will affect the environment and global climate picture. As I describe in this testimony, shale gas can help improve international energy security by providing an abundant domestic energy resource and reducing the need for natural gas imports. What role it plays in addressing climate change will depend in large part on the degree to which shale gas displaces inefficient coal plants and supplements continued improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

For the complete testimony, download the pdf at the top of the page

Image adapted from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and is public domain.