Expert refutes demonization of China's energy consumption

13:54, August 02, 2010      

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In 2009, China's energy consumption was in fact lower than the United States, and the United States' per capita energy use was 4.5 times as much as China's, said Wang Zhen, dean of the China University of Petroleum's School of Business Administration.

In a report released on July 19, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that China surpassed the United States to become the world's biggest energy consumer. According to the IEA, China's energy consumption was equivalent to nearly 2.3 billion tons of oil in 2009, 0.4 percent more than United State's 2.17 billion tons.

The IEA's point is to persuade the world that China is the largest energy consumer and the largest emitter of carbon dioxide rather than to tell the world how much energy China consumed in 2009, Wang said.

"We have to look into its hidden intentions and the effect of massive media coverage," he said.

China's per capita energy use much lower than the U.S.

Wang said that China has made great contributions to and sacrificed some of its interests for stable energy supply and environmental protection.

"However, some countries and international organizations still blame China for skyrocketing oil prices and urge China to bear the responsibility in the global energy sector," Wang said.

China consumed the equivalent of 3.1 billion tons of standard coal in 2009, and per capita energy use was only equivalent to 2.3 tons of coal. In addition, China's industry sector accounted for over 90 percent of the country's overall energy use.

In the same period, the 300 million U.S. residents consumed the equivalent of 3.1 billion tons of standard coal. The per capita energy consumption in the U.S. was the equivalent of 10.4 tons of standard coal, 4.5 times as high as that of an average Chinese resident.

"The United States has transferred the manufacturing of some energy-intensive products to China, and it is obvious that the American lifestyle leads to the American's high energy use," Wang said.

He added that China has the rights to speed up economic development and improve people's livelihoods.

"It is unreasonable for an international organization or a developed country to criticize China based on a general figure of energy consumption," he said.

China contributing to global energy safety

China is among the few countries that regard coal as the major source for energy. In 2009, oil and natural gas accounted only 23 percent of China's overall energy consumption.

By contrast, developed countries all rely on oil and natural gas. Oil and natural gas made up 64.6 percent of the United States' energy consumption in 2009, 41.6 percentage points higher than that of China.

Even countries that own no oil or gas resources, such as Japan, maintain an energy structure with oil and gas as the pillar. Oil and natural gas made up 60.3 percent of Japan's energy consumption in 2009.

China consumed the equivalent of 3.1 billion tons of standard coal in 2009, and only 9.67 percent of it was imported. The United States' dependency on imported energy is 26.8 percent, and the OECD countries' general dependency on imported energy is 32 percent. Both figures are much higher than China's.

Wang said that China has met its own demand for energy with its own energy structure and borne more energy pressure than other countries, contributing to the energy safety of the whole world.

China progressing in emission reduction

With China's economic expansion, the country will eventually be challenged by the problem of energy consumption boom. Wang said that China has always been addressing this problem.

On one hand, China strives to satisfy its need for resources through domestic energy supply. On the other hand, it has been pushing forward energy conservation and carbon emission reduction. Wang added that China has made significant progress in the new energy sector.

He mentioned that China has the world's largest hydropower installed capacity and is the largest user of solar water heaters. Meanwhile, the power generation capacity of China's nuclear power plants under construction is the world's largest. China also has the world's fastest growing wind power sector.

"Being the world's largest energy consumer or not, China will steadily follow the path of energy conservation, emission reduction and new energy research and development. China is responsible to itself as well as to the whole world," he said.

By Du Haitao, People's Daily, Aug. 2, 2010

Translator: Qi Shuwen


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