China’s rise is closely linked to the country’s energy security, and the rest of the world’s energy security is increasingly linked to China’s rise, and here's why:
China’s energy demand has increased more than 500 percent since 1980 and the country is now the world’s largest energy consumer.
The top energy source fuelling China’s rise has been domestic coal, China also consumes some petroleum, which it used to be able to source domestically. China is seeking to diversify its fuel mix for three main reasons. The first is the general principle that greater diversity yields more security. Second, as the makeup of the Chinese economy has shifted, the number of privately owned vehicles has shot up from 8 million in 1990 to about 105 million as of 2013. The environment is the third diversification driver. China’s reliance on coal has contributed to its infamously polluted skylines.
The Chinese government has set ambitious goals for dealing with the problem, including switching from coal to other, cleaner energy sources.
These efforts at fuel diversification represent a clear-eyed approach to improving Chinese energy security, but the implications for the rest of the world’s energy security are more ambiguous.