Implications of shale gas development for climate change.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


Advances in technologies for extracting oil and gas from shale formations have dramatically increased U.S. production of natural gas. As production expands domestically and abroad, natural gas prices will be lower than without shale gas. Lower prices have two main effects: increasing overall energy consumption, and encouraging substitution away from sources such as coal, nuclear, renewables, and electricity. We examine the evidence and analyze modeling projections to understand how these two dynamics affect greenhouse gas emissions. Most evidence indicates that natural gas as a substitute for coal in electricity production, gasoline in transport, and electricity in buildings decreases greenhouse gases, although as an electricity substitute this depends on the electricity mix displaced. Modeling suggests that absent substantial policy changes, increased natural gas production slightly increases overall energy use, more substantially encourages fuel-switching, and that the combined effect slightly alters economy wide GHG emissions; whether the net effect is a slight decrease or increase depends on modeling assumptions including upstream methane emissions. Our main conclusions are that natural gas can help reduce GHG emissions, but in the absence of targeted climate policy measures, it will not substantially change the course of global GHG concentrations. Abundant natural gas can, however, help reduce the costs of achieving GHG reduction goals.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Newell, Richard G, and Daniel Raimi (2014). Implications of shale gas development for climate change. Environ Sci Technol, 48(15). pp. 8360–8368. 10.1021/es4046154 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Richard G. Newell

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Richard G. Newell is the President and CEO of Resources for the Future (RFF), an independent, nonprofit research institution that improves environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the administrator of the US Energy Information Administration, the agency responsible for official US government energy statistics and analysis. Dr. Newell is an adjunct professor at Duke University, where he was previously the Gendell Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics and founding director of its Energy Initiative and Energy Data Analytics Lab. He has also served as the senior economist for energy and environment on the President's Council of Economic Advisers and was a senior fellow, and later a board member, at RFF.

Dr. Newell has published widely on the economics of markets and policies for energy and the environment, including issues surrounding global climate change, energy efficiency, and energy innovation. He is a member of the National Petroleum Council and has provided expert advice to many institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the International Energy Forum.

Dr. Newell holds a PhD from Harvard University, an MPA from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a BS and BA from Rutgers University.

Specialties: Energy and environmental economics, markets, policies, and technologies.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.