China overtook the US as the world’s biggest carbon emitter in 2007 and became world’s largest energy consumer in 2010.
Coal consumption in China grew more than 9% in 2011, continuing its upward trend for the 12th consecutive year, according to newly released international data. China’s coal use grew by 325 million tons in 2011, accounting for 87% of the 374 million ton global increase in coal use. Of the 2.9 billion tons of global coal demand growth since 2000, China accounted for 2.3 billion tons (82%). China now accounts for 47% of global coal consumption—almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.
Robust coal demand growth in China is the result of a more than 200% increase in Chinese electric generation since 2000, fueled primarily by coal. China’s coal demand growth averaged 9% per year from 2000 to 2010, more than double the global growth rate of 4% and significantly higher than global growth excluding China, which averaged only 1%.
The growth, revealed by US government figures on Tuesday, was driven by China’s booming economy, which has grown at an average rate of around 10% over the past decade. China overtook the US as the world’s biggest carbon emitter in 2007, and became the world’s biggest consumer of energy in 2010.
Research out last November suggested that 1,000 new coal-fired power plants are planned worldwide, with 363 in China and 455 in India. If all the plants were built, it would put the world on “a really dangerous trajectory” for climate change, experts at the World Resources Institute said.
China’s air pollution problem, highlighted this month by record-breaking bad air quality in Beijing, is caused by a mix of power plants, factories, cars, construction and farmers burning coal for heat.