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China to overtake US with world's highest CO2 emissions this year- IEA

Nov 9, 2007 - Xinhua

China will this year surpass the US in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and will become the world's biggest oil consumer by 2010, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Speaking at the release of the agency's World Energy Outlook report here, Nobuo Tanaka, IEA executive director said that China needs to invest about 3.7 trln usd in energy supply infrastructure to meet demand.

"The sustained high economic growth of both China and India are the drivers behind rising global energy demand," Tanaka said.

He noted that rising oil and gas prices are making coal a more competitive fuel and rising coal use is driving up energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

The IEA report observed that China became a net coal importer in the first half of this year and imports are expected to grow.

China's net oil imports will jump from 3.5 mln barrels a day in 2006 to 13.1 bln barrels a day in 2030 while new vehicle sales are expected to exceed US sales by 2015, it said.

The IEA's chief economist, and author of the report, Faith Birol, said that China needs to increase energy efficiency.

"Efficiency standards of refrigerators and air conditioners alone (could) cut electricity use by 83 Terawatt hours -- this is almost equivalent to annual electricity generation by the Three Gorges Dam," Birol said.

Echoing this sentiment, Tanaka said that China should look to other IEA member states for guidance on energy efficiency.

"China can learn more from other IEA countries about car emission standards, air conditioning units, refrigeration," Tanaka said.

"Price mechanisms also play a very important role," he said. "China should eliminate price controls and subsidies."

But Tanaka stated that whilst the IEA has made many recommendations to governments on energy policy, including to China, immediate execution of plans to reduce harmful emissions and slow energy consumption is needed.

"Actions and decisions should be made now," Tanaka said.

"It is not resources, it is not money, it is time that is the issue. We don't have time," he said.

Tanaka said that the IEA has been working with the National Development and Reform Commission, China's state planning agency, to develop the country's strategic oil reserves and technology transfers to improve efficient use of the nation's energy supplies.