China officially the world’s largest energy user
China has become the world’s largest energy user, having overtaken the United States, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday. This may not be particularly surprising in itself but what is startling is the pace at which China’s energy consumption is growing.
Since 2000, China’s energy demand has doubled, yet it is also a world leader in developing clean energy technologies – perhaps out of necessity more than altruism. Per capita energy consumption remains quite low of course – several times lower than that of the United States and Canada. But with a rapidly growing economy, total energy consumption in China is expected to continue to rise dramatically in the coming years.
Where will all this new energy come from? To date, much is being powered by coal and the country is grappling with very serious pollution problems as a result. Prospects for a new global climate change treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Accord are already looking dim. If China’s growth is to be powered by burning more coal and the world’s other big polluter, the United States, continues to refuse to address its disproportionately high emissions, the likelihood that any meaningful action on climate change will be taken is becoming more and more remote.