July 20, 2010 (Chinavestor) Biggest country by population. Third-largest economy in the world. The fastest-growing major economy in the world. Add top energy consumer in the world to list of interesting economic statistics that can be applied to China as the International Energy Agency (IEA) is reporting that China has surpassed the U.S. as the top consumer of energy products such as coal and oil.
The IEA said China used 52 million metric tons of oil equivalent in 2009 in the form of crude, coal, natural gas, nuclear power and renewable sources. That compares to 2,170 million tons consumed by the U.S. Oil demand has been sluggish since the onset of the global recession, but energy demand has remained robust in major emerging markets such as China and India.
Including Hong Kong, China consumed 2.2 billion tons of oil equivalent last year. The U.S. was second and Russia ranked third, according to Bloomberg News. China's National Energy Administration contested the IEA data, calling it "not very credible." That said, it is undeniable that China's oil imports jumped by almost 50% last year and have doubled since 2005.
The U.S. is still the largest oil user in the world, having consumed more than double the amount of oil as China did last year, but China did burn triple the amount of coal as the U.S. did. China released 6.533 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2008, compared with 5.832 million for the U.S., according to Bloomberg.