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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social and environmental impacts of shale gas development and public support for fracking in China Sher, Pui Wing


The debates on the environmental impacts of shale gas development remain highly contested in recent years. The environmental uncertainty has led to growing opposition to shale gas development in numerous Western democratic countries. Understanding the social perceptions of the impacts of shale gas development is important as it affects public attitudes toward the development. There is, however, scarce data on the public perceptions of shale gas developments in non-democratic countries that are experiencing rapid shale gas development, such as China, the case study for this study. I draw on fieldwork conducted during August 2015 in Chongqing and Sichuan province, where the most active shale gas development in China is currently ongoing, to examine residents’ perceptions of the impacts of the shale gas development, and to analyze how the political system affects these public perceptions. The results indicate that people in China support shale gas development in spite of the serious environmental problems they experienced for two prominent reasons: economic incentives and political pressure. Thus, this research has uncovered a gamut of positions, and a spectrum of economic and political motivations, underlying the Chinese people’s support for shale gas development.

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