Latest from ChinaFAQs
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.
- Macroeconomic forces – often unpredictable or poorly-understood – are crucial drivers of China’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Booming investment in heavy industry, mainly for domestic infrastructure development, as well as rapid growth in China’s export manufacturing sector, are the two most important factors driving China’s energy consumption.
- As China’s middle class demands more goods like air conditioners and cars, domestic private consumption could be in the future (but is not yet) a major driver of energy use and emissions.
- These economic trends are rooted in fundamental political and social factors. Reform will require concentrated attention to these considerations; fortunately, Chinese leaders have indicated that creating a more energy efficient economic structure is a high-level priority.
Former Vice President Al Gore launched his Climate Project’s lecture program in Beijing June 10, personally devoting an entire day to training 300 Chinese in how to give his famous lecture. The event was striking for the diversity and the quality of the participants. His partners in China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the China Agenda 21 Sustainable Development Office invited participants from all over China, including scholars, government officials, corporate middle managers, independent entrepreneurs, NGO staff and students.
China Energy Group members Mark Levine and Lynn Price have been invited to serve as Lead Authors for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report. Dr. Levine will serve on the Buildings chapter and Ms. Price will serve on the Industry chapter of the Working Group III report on Mitigation of Climate Change.
Why is Industrial Energy So Important in China?
China’s energy use more than quadrupled from 1980 to 2007 (see Fig. 1), and continues to grow, due in part to the demands of urbanization (i.e. construction of new buildings and infrastructure), and in part to rising production of manufactured goods.i Although China has not yet reached the energy consumption level of the U.S, China nonetheless – due to a more polluting fuel mix – recently surpassed the U.S. in energy-related CO2 emissions.ii
China’s State Council promulgated its first-ever regional air quality regulations on May 11. This is the first time outside of the special provisions for the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo that China has set up a structure for ensuring air quality across multiple provincial and urban jurisdictions involving entire airsheds. These new regulations begin the process of institutionalizing the lessons learned during the major efforts to improve air quality for those headlining events and bringing those lessons learned both to the long-term health of those two regions and to other regions facing air quality challenges in China. The full regulations are on line in Chinese at the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s website and our colleagues at the Energy Foundation’s Beijing office have helpfully translated them into English and allowed us to post the English translation.
See original Chinese text at: http://zfs.mep.gov.cn/fg/gwyw/201005/t20100514_189497.htm
(Unofficial, Informal Translation)
Notice of the General Office of the State Council about Forwarding Guiding Opinions on Pushing Forward the Joint Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution to Improve the Regional Air Quality Developed by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Relevant Departments
No. 33  of the General Office of the State Council
The people’s governments of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, all ministries and commissions of the State Council, and all institutions directly under the State Council:
The Guiding Opinions on Pushing Forward the Joint Prevention and Control of Air Pollution to Improve the Regional Air Quality raised by the Ministry of Environment Protection, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Commerce and the Bureau of Energy has been approved by the State Council and hereby forwarded to you for your earnest compliance and implementation.
General Office of the State Council
May 11, 2010