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China set to overtake US as world's largest energy consumer

A high-ranking Chinese official has publicly admitted for the first time that his country is on the verge of overtaking the United States to become the globe's biggest energy consumer.

world Updated: Apr 14, 2011 14:36 IST

A high-ranking Chinese official has publicly admitted for the first time that his country is on the verge of overtaking the United States to become the globe's biggest energy consumer.

The world's second-largest economy has been under mounting pressure to transform its economic development pattern, further improve energy efficiency and diversify its energy-supply mix, said Ding Zhimin, deputy director-general of China's Policy and Law Department of the National Energy Administration.

"As there are no final statistics (for energy consumption), we are still the second-biggest energy consumer. But very soon we will take first place," he was quoted by state-run China Daily as saying at a panel discussion at the European Parliament organised by the Beijing-based Europe-China Clean Energy Centre in Brussels.

It's the first time that a Chinese official has publicly admitted that the country will soon overtake the US, the Daily said.

However, China's per capita energy consumption is far lower than that of the US, Ding said.

The National Bureau of Statistics unveiled preliminary data in February, showing that the China's total energy consumption in 2010 was 3.25 billion tons of coal-equivalent (TCEs), up 5.9 % in 2009.

However, the rate of increase is slower than the country's economic growth of 10.3 % year-on-year in 2010.

However, those figures are still unverified and Ding did not reveal when China will finalize the energy statistics for 2010.

Meanwhile, the US has yet to announce its energy statistics for last year.

Xinhua news agency quoted the International Energy Agency as saying that China overtook the US as the world's biggest consumer of energy in 2010.

Ding also said that China is the world's largest energy producer, putting out 2.99 billion TCEs last year.

China is still adjusting its energy targets for the coming five years, although the government has announced the economic and social development guidelines for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), Ding said.

Ding is leading a team of Chinese officials, experts and business leaders in a study of the European experience in exploring clean and renewable energy and boosting energy efficiency. She said that China has been challenged by some developed nations and international green organizations to boost its ratio of renewable energy to total primary sources to 15 percent by 2020 from the current 8 %.

The nation has already made a pledge to reduce carbon emissions for each unit of GDP by 40-45 % by 2020 from 2005.