University of Alberta political economist Wenran Jiang calculates China spends three times the world average on energy — and seven times what Japan spends — to produce $1 of gross domestic product. It also is far more inefficient than nations like Brazil and Indonesia…Chinese steelmakers on average use about twice as much energy as Japanese or Korean rivals per ton of output. Only 5% of the country’s office and residential towers meet China’s own minimal energy-conservation standards.
That is from the 11 April Business Week, pp.50-51.
The price of oil has more than quadrupled since 1999, but the world economy has been affected a lot less than it was by the oil price shocks of the 70s and 80s, for the simple reason that industry around the world, with some exceptions, has become much more energy effcient. Unfortunately the rapidly growing Chinese one is one of these exceptions. We can only hope that Western technology transfers will help to bring them up to speed, to prevent the huge waste, and so that oil prices won’t rise to such heights that they would damage the world economy after all.
Looking at the bright side, the Chinese dependency on Western technology, and their general lack of efficiency, make them a lot less dangerous than they otherwise would be.