China Tops U.S. in Energy Use to Become World's Top Energy Consumer

China has passed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest energy consumer, according to new data from the International Energy Agency. And while many expected China to overtake the U.S., most thought it wouldn’t be for another 5 years.

The IEA reports China consumed 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent last year, about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2.170 billion tons of oil equivalent.

However, the U.S. remains the world’s biggest per-capita energy consumer, with the average American burning five times as much energy annually as the average Chinese citizen, said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol. Furthermore, the U.S. also remains the biggest oil consumer, going through roughly 19 million barrels a day on average compared to China’s 9.2 million barrels a day.

Despite the IEA’s analysis, Zhou Xian, spokesperson for China’s top energy agency, disputes the IEA figures, but has yet to offer alternative data.

“There is little doubt that China’s growing consumption changes what ability we have to control our own destiny within global energy markets,” said [ChinaFAQs expert] David Pumphrey, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “China can now demand a large space inside any energy-policy tent.”

For more, see the full article by Spencer Swartz and Shai Oster at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703720504575376712353150310.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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