New Stats On Energy Use in China Alarm Environmentalists

The most populous country on the planet may also pose the biggest threat to the global climate, according to recently released statistics about coal production and consumption in China. Until a few months ago, many energy experts hoped that the nation would have a relatively limited impact on climate change, because its state-owned companies were thought to be increasingly efficient and coal use appeared to be declining steeply. But with the release of the official government figures, cause for optimism has disappeared: Coal use in China is growing faster than almost anywhere in the world, and the International Energy Agency predicts that China’s increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2030 will almost equal the increase in emissions in the entire industrialized world. At the same time, sales of cars — another major factor in greenhouse emissions — are also growing explosively in China, and home energy use due to televisions, air-conditioning, and other electronics and appliances is also on the rise.