Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 01:28 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 01:28 | SYDNEY

For China, energy efficiency is the priority

7 October 2011 08:23

Shen Dingli is Professor and Executive Dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University. This is a response to Linda Jakobson's piece which asked whether President Putin's upcoming China visit would finally lead to a gas deal.

China was not in a hurry to wrap up an energy deal with Russia when President Hu Jintao visited Moscow in June, and there is no reason why Beijing would cut a deal soon, on Russia's terms, just because President Putin is visiting China. China can afford time to negotiate because:

  • It has sufficient energy reserves on its own soil, primarily coal.
  • Russian oil accounts for a mere 6% of China's oil imports, or some 3.3% of China's total oil consumption, or 0.6% of China's total energy consumption in 2010, rather insignificant for its entire energy strategy.
  • Given China's low energy efficiency (China spent 4.9 times as much energy as Japan in 2010 to produce a similar size of economy), it is far more important that China imports energy-saving technology, rather than energy per se; or, it should conduct its own research and development of such energy efficiency.
  • Given China's longtime efforts on thermonuclear fusion energy, one should realistically look beyond fossil energy in the decades ahead.

Oil and gas used to be weapons of energy, but not anymore. If China diverts its money from importing energy to importing and reforming its energy efficiency, it could, in one or two decades, more than double its economic scale and increase its energy efficiency, significantly reducing its energy dependence on the world, cutting its greenhouse emissions, and exporting oil again to other countries.

Russia needs to think about how best to sell its energy before China masters energy efficiency.

Photo by Flickr user BEN-_-.