China Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

China is favored by nature, and the deposits of coal and iron ore are among the richest in the world. The country is the world’s largest producer of coal and also the leading user. That the government has recently invested resources in building new coal-fired power plants is seen as a threat in many parts of the world against global attempts to stop climate change.

The supply of coal, which is mainly located in the north, is large and with current extraction, the coal is expected to last for 250 years. But much of the coal is of low quality.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by China with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

According to Zhengsourcing, China is also one of the world’s few producers of tungsten and a number of other rare metals needed in high-tech industries. Other important natural resources are gold, bauxite, brownstone, lead, aluminum and tin.

Energy use has increased significantly in line with economic development and China is today the world’s largest consumer of energy as well as a leading producer. The need is covered by almost two-thirds of coal, just under one-fifth of oil and to a lesser extent of natural gas. The share of renewable energy sources accounts for about one-sixth of the energy demand and China is today the country that produces the most renewable energy. Nuclear power is also being expanded.

Domestic oil is mainly pumped up in northeastern China, but new oil sources are being sought in the South China Sea as well as in the inner western parts of the country. However, the need for oil is high and China imports a lot of oil from other countries. China also has natural gas reserves but imports gas from, among others, Central Asia and Russia.

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China produces the most hydroelectric power in the world. A gigantic power plant was started in 1994 at Three ravines in the Yangtze River. The dam, which was fully commissioned in 2012, is intended to improve electricity supply, shipping and irrigation and prevent the river from flooding. The project has been criticized for harmful effects on the environment and at least 1.3 million people were forced to move in connection with the construction.

The waste of water resources is large and the water supply is threatened. The authorities have increasingly been forced to remove the groundwater, whose level has dropped every year. Another problem is contaminated water and that many of the rivers in the inland have been classified as unfit for human use. Deforestation has led to soil degradation in the north and flooding in the south.

During the 2000s, the central government took environmental problems more and more seriously. Tighter environmental laws have been introduced and during the 2010 century China has also taken on a more active role in global cooperation to counter climate change. But at the same time, China is the country with the largest carbon dioxide emissions. China has set a time limit – in 2030 – for when the country’s emissions level will no longer be allowed to increase and the country’s management has on several occasions stated that it wants to fight climate change.

The widespread use of coal in both industry and households as well as in electricity and the growing automobile pollution pollute the air and cause residents to die prematurely as a result of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The use of coal in households should gradually be replaced by natural gas. Air pollution is another major problem in the big cities, although the situation improved during the second half of the 2010, when both the proportion of small particles that can penetrate the lungs and blood flow decreased by a quarter between 2015 and 2019 while sulfur dioxide levels decreased by more than 50 percent during the same period. period. In order to reduce the hazardous coal burning, an expansion of nuclear power is also in progress and new environmentally friendly methods for coal use are being tested. At the same time, climate experts are worried that China will start building several new coal-fired power plants by the end of the 2010s,Foreign policy and defense).


Energy use per person

2 237 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

3927 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

10 291 927 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

7.5 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

12.4 percent (2015)



New terrorist laws are adopted

New anti-terrorism legislation is being pushed. Among other things, a national counter-terrorism agency will be created and special anti-terrorist forces with wide-ranging powers will be set up. The authorities are also given increased opportunities to monitor the communication between private individuals. The laws are criticized by international human rights organizations for being vague and thus also able to be used against political opponents and minorities.

Severe air pollution in Beijing

The highest air pollution warning level is issued on December 7 in Beijing. Emissions are then just under 300 micrograms per cubic meter (the World Health Organization’s (WHO) maximum level from health aspects is 25 micrograms). Urban residents are urged to stay indoors, schools are closed and restrictions are placed on car traffic, factories and construction work. A few weeks later another warning comes.

Protests against arms sales

China is protesting against US decision to sell weapons to Taiwan, including two warships and advanced weapons systems.

The yuan becomes a reserve currency

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announces that the Chinese currency yuan will be included in the fund’s basket of reserve currencies. Among the currencies already included are the US dollar, the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.


Human rights activist convicted

Human rights activist Yang Maodong is sentenced to five years in prison. He has been detained since he organized peaceful protests in January 2013 against the censorship of the newspaper Södern’s weekly newspaper in Guangzhou (see January 2013).

Continued spiral of violence in Xinjiang

Security forces kill 28 people who are identified as responsible for a terrorist attack on a coal mine in Xinjiang in September when 16 people were killed.

The presidents of China and Taiwan meet

It is the first time in over 60 years. The Singapore meeting is mainly symbolic and does not result in any important decisions. From an official point of view, it is later announced that Beijing and Taipei respectively, prior to the historic meeting, conducted an exchange of imprisoned spies. Beijing released two Taiwanese who have been jailed for espionage for nine years while Taiwan released a Chinese convicted of espionage 16 years ago.

Unlocking the one-child policy

Xinhua State News Agency announces that it will be allowed for couples to have two children. A law on this will be adopted by the National People’s Congress in March 2016.


Tensions in the South China Sea

China criticizes the United States for allegedly violating China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea. According to Beijing, the intrusion occurred when the USS Lassen vessel came closer than 12 nautical miles to reefs and copper in the Spratly archipelago, which China claims as well as the Philippines, Malaysia and two other Southeast Asian countries. The United States claims that the ship was on international water and that it carried out an operation as part of the country’s navigation freedom program.

Corruption charges against Hong Kong leaders

Donald Tsang, who was head of government in Hong Kong between 2005 and 2012, is charged with corruption for failing to report on a luxury apartment in Shenzhen.


Many killed in assaults

A terrorist attack on a coal mine in Xinjiang is causing many people to be killed. According to the US-supported radio channel Radio Free Asia, there are at least about 50 deaths. Official sources state recently that 16 people have been killed.

Xi’s first state visit to the United States

President Xi Jinping announces at a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama that the countries have agreed not to allow cyber espionage against companies in the other country. In the US, Xi also announces that China will begin introducing a greenhouse gas emissions trading system in 2017. China will also assist developing countries with more than US $ 3 billion to reduce their emissions.


The central bank lowers the interest rate

Stock prices on the Shanghai Stock Exchange are falling sharply, which leads to price falls also on stock exchanges in other parts of the world. China’s central bank implements an interest rate cut to stabilize the situation. As a result, stock market prices are rising again, both in China and abroad.

Prosecution against student leaders in Hong Kong

Three student movement leaders are charged with organizing, or urging others to participate in, illegal demonstrations during the democracy protests in Hong Kong in the fall of 2014.

Severe accident at chemical companies

Two explosions in the port city of Tianjin in a chemical warehouse kill nearly 150 people and injure over 700. Several office buildings in the area are severely damaged. Toxic chemicals are said to remain in the fire-cured area. After two weeks, twelve managers are arrested, most of them from the company that owned the warehouses.

Write-down of the currency

The central bank implements a devaluation, ie a write-down of the value of the national currency yuan, for three days in a row. At the same time, reports of falling export revenues are coming.


China gets OS 2022

The International Olympic Committee decides to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in the city of Zhangjiakou, 25 kilometers north of Beijing.

Meeting with the President of Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes his first official visit to Beijing. Tensions between the two countries have increased since Erdogan accused China of systematically suppressing the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang province. Turkey has announced plans to buy a multi-billion dollar Chinese missile defense.

New development bank

The Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) open their own bank, New Development Bank (NDB), in Shanghai. The new bank will become an alternative to lending agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the Brics countries emphasize that NDB is not a competitor to these. NDB will lend money to developing countries for infrastructure projects.

Action against human rights activists

Over a hundred lawyers and activists for freedom of expression and human rights are arrested at coordinated police councils in various parts of China. Most are released after questioning but over twenty remain in custody. Many of those arrested had written on a protest list about a lawyer’s disappearance a few days earlier. The missing lawyer and her colleagues had been accused by the authorities of being behind a number of conspiracies to disrupt social order.

Stock market decline in China

Concerns about the country’s financial markets are increasing. Since mid-June, the shares in China have lost 30 percent of their average value and many companies have completely stopped trading in shares. Many shareholders are small savers who sell their shares in a panic.


Measures for the climate

China plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60-65 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The goal is also to increase the use of non-fossil fuels and that one fifth of energy consumption will come from such energy sources by 2030. This is part of the country’s contribution to reducing climate change ahead of the Paris climate summit at the end of 2015. China is the country in the world that emits most carbon dioxide. Investments should therefore be made on solar and wind power, as well as natural gas.

Island development

According to reports from international media, China has almost completed the construction of a runway on one of the disputed Sprat Islands in the South China Sea.

New security laws

The National Congress approves a number of national security laws, which receive strong criticism from foreign governments as well as foreign companies and human rights groups. The legislation is vaguely worded and gives the government the right to take measures to “preserve China’s sovereignty”. The intention is that all infrastructure and all information networks should be “secure and controllable”. Both space and cyber space are said in the legislative text to be part of China’s security interests. This is the first part of three in a larger legislative package.

No to electoral reform in Hong Kong

In a vote in the Legislative Legislative Council (LegCo) in Hong Kong, 28 of the Council’s 70 members voted against the Hong Kong government’s planned reform on how the governor should be elected in the 2017 election (see April 2015). Only eight members voted in favor of the proposal, while a large number of members who said they supported it had left the premises, reportedly in an attempt to get the vote postponed. That the proposal, which is supported by Beijing, would be voted down was already clear before the vote. Three yes votes were taken to support two-thirds of the LegCo members, which was required for it to be adopted. Following the vote in LegCo, the election of Hong Kong’s head of government in 2017 is expected to take place in the same way as before, by a vote within the special electoral committee consisting of 1,200 members. A few days before the LegCo vote, ten people had been arrested by police, suspected of planning bomb attacks. The motive behind the planned attack was not clear,


Meeting with Taiwanese party leader

President Xi Jinping meets Eric Chu, chairman of the nationalist party Kuomintang, which has power in Taiwan. It has been six years since the parties made such high-level talks.

Proposal for electoral reform in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Government presents a bill in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on the election of leaders in 2017. The proposal is in line with the guidelines drawn up by Beijing in the summer of 2014, which led to two months of protests and street occupation in Hong Kong in the fall. For the first time, general elections will be held for the post of Hong Kong’s head of government, which means that all Hong Kong residents should be allowed to vote. However, the two or three candidates they are allowed to vote for must have been selected beforehand in a vote of the 1200-member electoral committee, where Beijing loyal members are in the majority. LegCo will vote on the bill this summer.

Journalist is imprisoned

An experienced journalist, Gao Yu, is sentenced to seven years in prison for sending a secret government document to a foreign media group.

Prosecution against party camp

Zhou Yongkang (see July and December 2014) is accused of receiving bribes, abuse of power and revealing state secrets. The trial will take place in Tianjin.


Security meeting with Japan

China and Japan hold a high-level meeting on security issues. It is the first meeting to be held since 2011. Among other things, we discuss how direct communication between the countries’ military can be improved with regard to the dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

The People’s Congress meets

The National People’s Congress holds its annual meeting in Beijing for ten days. Among other things, the People’s Congress gives its support to the government’s planned reduction of the growth target from 7.5 percent to 7 percent.


Businessman executed

A powerful businessman who is said to have connections to Zhou Yongkang (see July and December 2014) is executed. Liu Han, who chaired the Hanlong Business Group in Sichuan Province, has been sentenced to death for murder and mafia-related crime.

Free trade agreement clear with South Korea

China and South Korea conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement. A draft agreement has been finalized.

Prohibition on import of ivory

China faces a one-year ban on ivory imports. China is the world’s largest importer of smuggled ivory and the country has long been criticized for undermining the poaching of African elephants.


Harsh criticism of China

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch publishes its annual report on the state of the world. According to the report, the state of human rights has deteriorated under President Xi. The Chinese government and the Communist Party have been pushing harder for regime critics and the situation is now the worst in ten years.

Censorship in the education system

Education Minister Yuan Guiren urges the country’s universities not to allow criticism of the regime or the country’s political system in education. Books that promote Western values ​​should not be used.

Record low growth

Economic statistics show that growth in 2014 was the lowest in 24 years – 7.4 percent.

Militants are suspected of corruption

The Chinese military announces in a statement that 16 generals are being investigated for corruption, including the second highest commander of the nuclear weapons.

Corruption investigation against the Deputy Minister

Ma Jian, the deputy minister of security is being investigated for corruption, states the Communist Party’s body for discipline monitoring.

China Energy and Environment Facts

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