The world can begin hating a new superpower for its energy consumption, instead or in addition to America.
China’s total energy consumption just surpassed that of America, finally, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The Paris-based agency, whose forecasts are generally regarded as bellwether indicators for the energy industry, said China devoured 2,252 million tons of oil equivalent last year, or about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2,170 million tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower.
This is a result of both America’s economic crisis, plus China’s continued growth. It’s a huge change for energy markets, as if China didn’t already control the destiny of enough commodities (copper, iron ore, etc.).
“The fact that China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer symbolizes the start of a new age in the history of energy,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said in an interview. The U.S. had been the biggest overall energy consumer since the early 1900s, he said.
Nevertheless, the U.S. remains the largest consumer of total crude oil, even though China is the largest source of incremental crude oil consumption growth globally. At least now the U.S. isn’t environmental enemy #1 for the world to despise. It’s now #2.
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