China in Denial About Becoming World's Largest Energy Consumer


photo: Dieter Weinelt via flickr

China passed the United States in terms of national carbon emissions a couple years back, and according to new data from the International Energy Agency also just passed the US in terms of total energy consumption. That doesn't quite fit with China's cultivated image of still being a developing economy in need of special international privileges, so it's denying that the IEA figures paint a true picture. According to the new IEA stats, as relayed by Chief Economist Faith Birol, China consumed 2,252 million metric tons of oil equivalent in 2009--that includes all crude oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable resources. By comparison, in 2009 the US consumed 2,170 million metric tons. (Bloomberg)

None of which fits in with China's preferred narrative. Reuters quotes spokesperson for China's National Energy Administration, Zhou Xian:

We believe that [the IEA] did not understand fully the Chinese situation, in particular the efforts China made in energy saving, emission reductions and development in new energy sources.

Zhou added that the IEA figure "could be used as a reference but is not very credible."

Really? What's more likely is that the IEA figures do include the genuine and notable efforts China has made in energy saving, increasing energy efficiency and emission reductions in manufacturing, and developing new renewable energy sources and the nation still came out as the world's leading energy consumer.

But if China accepts that, and combined with the fact that per capita emissions in the nation are in the range of low-emitting European nations, it would have to admit that it is no longer the same nation entitled to more lax treatment under an future international climate change agreement. It would have to admit it is, despite sharp divisions in energy usage and standard of living among its population, no longer really a developing nation.

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More on Energy & China:
China No Longer a Developing Nation - Per Capita Carbon Emissions Higher Than France's
Good News: China's Renewable Energy Growth Outpacing Coal
China's Stunning New Renewable Energy Standard: 20 Percent by 2020

Tags: China | Energy | Renewable Energy | United States

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