China over took the USA last year to become the world’s largest energy user, the International Energy Agency revealed yesterday. With this new status, China is expected to be more influential in the global energy markets in determining prices and how it is used.
Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said: "In the 2000, the US consumed twice as much energy as China, now China consumes more than the U.S." He noted that the U.S. had improved the efficiency with which it uses energy by 2.5 percent annually during that time, while China managed only a 1.7 percent annual improvement.
In 2008, the USA pushed oil prices to record highs, which helped tip the world into recession. Mr Birol said China's increased need for imports of coal and gas could eventually have a similar impact.
China is also the world’s largest coal user. It is set to beat Japan, as the world’s largest coal importer. The trend has also been apparent in oil. Saudi Arabia, the world's most important oil exporter, for the first time last year sold more oil to China than the U.S., which for decades had been its most important customer.
China on Tuesday denied a report that it had surpassed the United States last year to become the world's largest energy user.
China now world's biggest energy user [CNN, 20 July 2010]
China denies IEA label as world's top energy user [Reuters, 20 July 2010]