China Energy, Pollution, Environment facts & statistics

China Mike’s 100% verified, no B.S. China facts (interesting & fun statistics):


China is the world’s biggest energy consumer, after topping the U.S. in 2009 according to the International Energy Agency. However, the U.S. is still by far the biggest per-capita energy consumer, with the average American using five times as much energy as the average Chinese.
[ Wall Street Journal online, “China Tops U.S. in Energy Use” July 18, 2010 ]

China is projected to increase its energy demand by 75% between 2008 and 2035, according to the International Energy Agency.
[ The Economist online “Never Enough” Nov. 9, 2010 ]

China imports more than half of its oil. China’s oil reserves are two-thirds those of the U.S.
[ “China: Asia in Focus”, R. LaFleur 2010]

California alone uses more gas than China, according to the California Energy Commission’s State Alternative Fuels Plan. In 2007, California’s 20 billion gallon gasoline and diesel habit topped China’s total use (as well as that of Russia, India, Brazil or Germany).
[ Wired Mag. “Amazing Stat: California Uses More Gas than China” July 17, 2008 ]

China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of coal.
[Wikipedia “Coal power in the People’s Republic of China” ]

China relies on coal for almost 70% of its total energy supply (compared to the U.S.’s 30%).
[NPR, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (, 2010 report]

China and the U.S. together possess 42% of the world’s coal reserves.

[ “China: Asia in Focus”, R. LaFleur 2010]

China’s Three Gorges Dam–the world’s largest hydroelectric power station—was first proposed in 1919 by Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, who wanted protect river communities from deadly floods.
[ National Geographic, June 9, 2006 ]

The Three Gorges Dam is five times larger and generates 20 times more power than the Hoover Dam.
[ Wikipedia, National Geographic, June 9, 2006 ]


China is the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide, passing the U.S. in 2006 according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
[ Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency; The Guardian UK, “China overtakes US as world’s biggest CO2 emitter” June 19, 2007 ]

By 2030, China’s carbon dioxide emissions could equal the entire world’s CO2 production today
, if the country’s carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth.
[ Wired Mag. “China’s 2030 CO2 Emissions Could Equal the Entire World’s Today” Feb. 8, 2008; Science Journal “Climate Change–the Chinese Challenge” 2008]

Three quarters of Chinese cited environmental problems such as climate change as a major threat to China’s security, according to a study by the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the MacArthur Foundation. 67% cited water and food shortages, and 58% cited internal separatists. Only half thought the U.S. posed a security threat, and 45% still worried about Japan.
[ Newsweek “China’s Biggest Threat” Dec. 12, 2009 ]

China is home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.
[The World Bank; Time Magazine “The World’s Most Polluted Places” Sept. 12, 2007 ]

The world’s most polluted city is Linfen, China. China’s State Environmental Protection Agency also reported that Linfen—in Shanxi province—has the worst air in the country.
[ Time Magazine “The World’s Most Polluted Places” Sept. 12, 2007 ]

Only 1% of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is deemed safe by European Union standards.
[ Wikipedia; New York Times, “As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes” Aug. 25, 2007 ]

Two thirds of China’s cities don’t meet the country’s own air emissions standards.
[ “China: The Balance Sheet” Bergsten 2006 ]

Three quarters of a million Chinese people in die prematurely from pollution each year–mainly from air pollution in large cities—according to a World Bank 2007 report, “Cost of Pollution in China”. An estimated 350,000-400,000 people died prematurely from outdoor air pollution and an additional 300,000 died from indoor air pollution, such as the fumes from the coal-burning stoves. However, the World Bank was blocked by the government from publishing key data in China because it was “too sensitive and could cause social unrest.”
[ Financial Times “750,000 a year killed by Chinese pollution” July 2, 2007; Telegraph UK “Pollution kills 750,000 in China every year” July 4, 2007 ]

Auto emissions accounted for 79% of China’s total air pollution in 2005.
[ “China: The Balance Sheet” Bergsten 2006 ]

Half of China’s land is arid or semi-arid, making it “vulnerable to drying out in the early stages of climate change”. Because of this fact, by 2030, China’s agricultural output could be reduced by 5 to 10 percent, which “would be a disaster in a country that…has 20 percent of the world’s population and 7 percent of its arable land.”
[ Wired Mag. “China’s 2030 CO2 Emissions Could Equal the Entire World’s Today” Feb. 8, 2008; Science Journal “Climate Change–the Chinese Challenge” 2008]

In 2010, the Chinese government conducted its first national pollution census. The detailed study took two years to complete—involving 570,000 people, and included 1.1 billion pieces of data from nearly 6 million sources of pollution, including factories, farms, homes and pollution-treatment facilities.
[The New York Times “China Report Shows More Pollution in Waterways” Feb. 9, 2010; Wall Street Journal “China Report Finds Extensive Pollution” Feb. 10, 2010]


The 2010 pollution census revealed that China’s “water is far more polluted and its industry is producing far more waste than previously realized.” For instance, in 2007, water pollution was more than twice as severe as previously shown in official figures that had long omitted agricultural waste.
[The New York Times “China Report Shows More Pollution in Waterways” Feb. 9, 2010; Wall Street Journal “China Report Finds Extensive Pollution” Feb. 10, 2010]

43.2% of state-monitored rivers were classified as grade 4 or worse in 2010, meaning their water was unsuitable for human contact, according to data from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.
[ The Economist “Raising a stink” Aug. 5, 2010 ]

Over one third of fish species native to the Yellow River are now extinct because of damming or pollution, Chinese officials announced in 2007.
[ Asia Water Project; “The Great Leap Backwards? The Costs of China’s Environmental Crisis,” Foreign Affairs Sept-Oct 2007]

By 2030, China will have exploited all of the country’s available water supplies, according to official Chinese government projections.
[ Asia Water Project; “China says water supplies exploited by 2030,” Beijing Reuters, December 14, 2007 ]

90% of China’s urban groundwater is contaminated.
[ Asia Water Project; “In Deep Water: Ecological Destruction of China’s Water Resources,” 2007 ]

About 300 million Chinese people in rural areas rely on unsafe drinking water.
[World Bank, “Addressing China’s Water Scarcity: Recommendations for Selected Water Resource Management Issues,” 2009]

And a bit of good news….


China and Germany are leading the “race for a Green Economy” and “have developed robust policy frameworks, including clearly defined national targets, strong incentives and integrated plans, which can lead to more green jobs, increased innovation and growth in technology adoption”. Meanwhile, the U.S. “lags behind, where political debates over climate change-related policy actions are hindering opportunities and leadership.”
[ Deutsche Bank report “The Green Economy: The Race is On”, 2010 ]

China is leading the clean economy race.
The Chinese government is “going for the gold” and “taking this challenge much more seriously than others….doing things differently, making longer-term, sustained commitments that are much larger,” wrote Andrew Winston in the Harvard Business Review.
[ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China is investing about US$75 to $100 billion EACH year in clean energy for the 10 years between 2010 and 2020, according to the “country’s ten-year plan that made some jaws drop”.
[ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China retained the top spot in 2010 as the world’s leading investor in low-carbon energy technology, according to a report by the US Pew Environment Group, which wrote that China’s “ascendance has been steady and steep…With aggressive clean energy targets and clear ambition to dominate clean energy manufacturing and power generation, China is rapidly moving ahead of the rest of the world.”
[ Pew Environment Group report “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2010?”; BBC News “China tops global clean energy table” March 29, 2011 ]

Pew Environment Group report: Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2010?

China sees clean energy as a “great economic opportunity”. US energy secretary Steven Chu—departing from prepared remarks during a speech—said: “I just came back from visiting China with the president…The president of China, the premier of China, the vice premier of China are all saying, ‘This is a very big deal for us. If we continue business as usual, continue to grow our carbon emissions, it would be devastating for the world, devastating for China.’ But they also say, ‘This is our great economic opportunity.’ And for that reason, they’re investing over $100 billion a year in the clean energy economy.”
[ Wired Mag. “The Key to Fixing Global Warming? China” April 19, 2010 ]


The Chinese government is investing in its renewable energy industries “aggressively” and “has built the largest solar and wind production industries in the world in just a few years.”
[ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China is world’s leading renewable-energy producer, according to a 2008 report by the Climate Group, a nonprofit group. China’s investment in renewable energy (around US$12 billion in 2007) is just behind that of the world leader, Germany.
[ The Climate Group 2008 report, The Guardian UK “China ‘leads the world’ in renewable energy” Aug. 1, 2008 ]

In 2010, China accounted for almost 50% of all manufacturing of solar modules and wind turbines. China also accounted for 47% of all wind energy investments globally. Similarly, China led the world in asset financing, with $47.3 billion in private investments directed toward installation of clean energy generating capacity.
[ Pew Environment Group report “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race 2010?”]

China doubled its wind capacity in one year—from 12GW in 2008 to 25GW in 2009. The government has set a target to reach 30GW of wind by 2020.
[ Deutsche Bank 2010 report “The Green Economy: The Race is On” ]

China is the world’s leader in wind power, after topping the U.S. in total installed wind capacity in 2010. Today, China accounts for 22% of the world’s total wind power capacity.
[The Economist online “China leads the windy world” Feb. 3, 2011 ]

In 2011, China took the “lead in race for clean nuclear power,” by launching a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, which is a “safer, cleaner and more abundant alternative fuel”. The “crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source” is predicted to cause the U.S. to “fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.”
[ Wired Mag “China Takes Lead in Race for Clean Nuclear Power” Feb. 1, 2011 ]

China’s smart grid investment alone is estimated at $60 to $100 billion over the next decade.
[ Harvard Business Review “China Leads the Clean Economy Race” Sept. 23, 2010 ]

China increased its renewable electric power capacity 81% in only three years (2005-2008)— exceeding the capacity of the U.S.
[ Deutsche Bank 2010 report “The Green Economy: The Race is On” ]


China possesses about 4% of the world’s total forest area.
[ “China: Asia in Focus”, R. LaFleur 2010]

China’s forest cover increased from 12% to 18% in two decades (1990-2010), through vigorous reforestation programs. The government has a national goal of reaching 23% by 2020.
[ “China: Asia in Focus”, R. LaFleur 2010]

China increased their forest coverage between 2000 and 2010, at an average annual rate of 1.6% (despite overall worldwide deforestation).
[The Economist online “The World’s Forests” Feb. 11, 2011 ]

Launched in 1978, China’s “massive tree-planting scheme” is expected to cover 400 million hectares (or 42% of China’s landmass) by 2050, which would be “arguably the biggest man-made carbon sponge on the planet.”
[ Guardian UK “China’s loggers down chainsaws in attempt to regrow forests” March 11, 2009 ]

Over the past three decades, Chinese volunteers have planted about 58.9 billion trees across the country, according to statistics from the State Forestry Administration.
[ China Daily “Chinese leaders join in tree planting campaign” April 2, 2011 ]

China uses and throws away 45 billion disposable chopsticks every year, representing about 25 million trees.
[ Wikipedia; China Daily, “Call to abandon wooden chopsticks” Aug. 10, 2007 ]


In 2010, the Chinese government launched a program to subsidize buyers of battery-powered cars and plug-in hybrids. Buyers receive up to 60,000 yuan (US$8,800) in subsidies.
[ Wall Street Journal “China to Help Hybrid Buyers” June 2, 2010 ]

In 2008, the Chinese government started a nationwide ban prohibiting all shops, supermarkets, and department stores from giving out free plastic bags. The State Council calls for “a return to cloth bags and shopping baskets.”
[Wikipedia ; New York Times, “China bans free plastic shopping bags” Jan 9, 2008 ]


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