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IEA seeks closer alignment with China

08.01.2011  |  DuBose, Ben ,  HP, Houston, Texas

Keywords:

After a decade of high growth led to China becoming the world’s biggest energy consumer, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka says that closer alignment of the country with the IEA would be of mutual benefit. In a recent speech, the director outlined five key reasons why increased cooperation with the IEA would be a good move for China. He also said that for the IEA to continue playing an effective role in the global market, it is important to involve major emerging economies like China.

 
  IEA Executive Director Nobuo
  Tanaka spoke about the IEA’s
  desired relationship with China
  during the Global Think Tank Summit. 

“China’s rise is not only a case of up, but also in,” Mr. Tanaka said. “China has risen into international markets, into political frameworks which guide those markets, into joint mechanisms for managing crises, and perhaps one day, into the IEA as a global energy governance forum.”

Mr. Tanaka spoke at the second Global Think Tank Summit on June 25, two days after the IEA announced that its member countries had agreed to release 60 million bbl of oil in the coming month in response to the ongoing disruption of oil supplies from Libya. Among those attending the summit in Beijing, China, were China’s Deputy Premier Li Keqiang and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who played a key role in the founding of the IEA in 1974.

Rising demand.

Mr. Tanaka shared IEA analysis regarding China’s future importance to the global energy market over the next few decades. China’s electricity demand is projected to almost triple from 2008 to 2035. While oil imports are expected to jump from 4.3 million bpd in 2009 to 12.8 million bpd in 2035 (representing all of current Saudi Arabian and Mexican production combined), natural gas imports are expected to increase to account for 53% of Chinese gas demand in 2035.

On top of this, China’s net imports of coal are projected to increase to the year 2015, but depending on what government policies are implemented, China could become either a net exporter by 2035, or could possibly import the equivalent of all of today’s internationally traded coal.

Mr. Tanaka stressed that the IEA respects the sovereign decisions of all of its partners, and that deepening ties with non-member countries is a long, complex and sometimes slow process.

“But the IEA also recognizes the imperative to bring major emerging economies [like China] into its fold if credibility to act in the name of the global market—such as last week’s stock release—is to be maintained,” he added.

Reasons for closer cooperation.

Mr. Tanaka cited five reasons why closer cooperation with the IEA would be beneficial for China:

1. Enhanced energy security through support from IEA partners as well as coordination during major disruptions in the supply of oil

2. Participation in a community that is influential in shaping future energy security and sustainability on a global level

3. Participation in open discussions relating to technology policy and better access to state-of-the-art technologies themselves

4. The opportunity to learn and benefit from best practices of other countries in areas such as statistics or energy efficiency

5. The chance to demonstrate to the world that China is reaching the point of development where it can confidently engage along-side other developed economies in areas of global importance.

Mr. Tanaka noted that China’s recent evolution represents a transformation of the global energy economy.

“At the IEA, we are proud to be able to embrace such change, but urge the new major emerging economies like China to assume their role as equal partners in global energy governance,” he said. “Together we can ensure that the transition to a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future is a harmonious one.”

The full speech from the IEA’s executive director can be found at the IEA website (www.iea.org).  HP



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