China Now Top Energy Consumer


"China topped the U.S. tally of 2,170 tons of 'oil equivalent.'"

For the first time in more than a century, a country other than the United States consumed more energy than any other nation, as China grabbed the top spot last year.

Citing data from the International Energy Agency, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that China was the world's most voracious consumer of energy in 2009.

China consumed 2,252 million tons of "oil equivalent" last year, topping the U.S. tally of 2,170 tons by roughly 4%.

Oil equivalent is the term the IEA uses to bring all forms of energy into a comparable form, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydroelectricity, wind and solar power.

China was forecast to overtake the U.S. at some point over the next decade. But the global recession appears to have sped up the process as its economy continued to expand at a double-digit pace while the U.S. economy declined and oil consumption flatlined.

Only 10 years ago, China's energy consumption was half that of the United States.

"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.

China had already passed the United States as the world's largest polluter several years ago.

With a population of a little over 300 million, the United States still uses much more energy, per capita, than China does.

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