As the United States has, the People's Republic of China has seen its demand for energy skyrocket. But unlike in the United States, which is a fully industrialized country, in China, a developing country, energy demand increased over an extremely short period. Coal is China's dominant fuel; its coal resources are rich, and coal consumption is deeply embedded in its history. China is both the largest consumer and the largest producer of coal in the world. However, China's rapid economic growth in the past decade has resulted in an increasing demand for oil. In 2006, according to the EIA, China's oil demand was expected to soar above 2005 levels by a considerable half million barrels per day. In 2006 alone China generated more than half of a worldwide increase in oil demand, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006.6 China is also the second largest consumer of petroleum products in the world and the third largest net importer of oil after the United States and Japan, reported the EIA.7 In 2006 China's total demand for oil was estimated to reach 7.4 million barrels per day, a demand that the EIA projected would increase significantly by 2030.8
It was in 2003 that China, the world's most densely populated country, surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest consumer of petroleum products. And it was only in 2000 that the surge in China's energy consumption began. The roots for this rapid increase in oil consumption can be traced back to the beginning of the millennium, when an upswing in economic investments in China spurred massive economic growth. For the first time many of China's citizens began to experience a level of prosperity that allowed them to purchase cars, home appliances, and other energy-intensive goods. China's mostly human energy-dependent way of life was transformed into an increasingly fuel-dependent lifestyle. The IEA reported that in 2004 for every 1 percent increase in China's gross domestic product (GDP), its energy demand grew by more than 1.5 percent.
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