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China rejects title of world's biggest energy user

Photo: IEA

China has rejected an assessment from the International Energy Agency saying it has become the world’s top energy consumer, surpassing the US. China called the data from the assessment “unreliable”, despite reports citing a top IEA official who said the country had taken the top spot in 2009, earlier than expected.


In 2009 China consumed 2.25 billion metric tons of oil equivalent from sources including coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas and hydropower. That’s about four per cent more than the US, which consumed 2.17 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, according to figures from the watchdog.

However China’s National Energy Administration said the information was incorrect.

“The IEA’s data on China’s energy use is unreliable,” Zhou Xian, an official with China’s National Energy Administration, said at a press conference, according to the Xinhua news agency.

The IEA and China’s statistics authority collected data from different sources, which led to different results, the state news agency reported.

However economists at the IEA noted that there had been changes in energy efficiency.

“In the 2000, the US consumed twice as much energy as China, now China consumes more than the US,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, according to the Financial Times.

He added that the US had made efficiency improvements of 2.5 per cent annually during that time, while China only managed a 1.7 per cent improvement.

“The US has come to a certain saturation of energy use, but there have also been lots of efforts, especially since 2005, to use energy more efficiently,” the financial daily newspaper reported him as saying.

Though the IEA admitted that it’s findings were preliminary, reports indicate that they think it is a clear indication of China’s energy ascent.

The IEA is a Paris-based organisation working on an international energy program of energy cooperation among 24 member countries.

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