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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 11:19 GMT
China 'to be largest energy user'
Power station in China

China is set to become the world's largest consumer of energy by about 2010, according to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The World Energy Outlook report predicts that China will overtake the US in its energy use.

Demand for energy in China is expected to have doubled within 20 years, according to the report.

But this will come at a price, with China also on course to become the world's largest polluter, says the IEA.

China's rapid economic growth has created an increasing demand for natural resources.

It is already looking to Africa, the Middle East and other countries in Asia to satisfy its demand for the fossil fuels.

Economic priority

But the burning of fossil fuels is already having an impact on China's environment, causing widespread pollution.

The IEA report says China's increasing consumption will also make it the world's largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The Chinese authorities have repeatedly refused to act on climate change, saying that the economy must take priority.

They also argue that it is pointless for the West to criticise China for its energy consumption when so much of China's industry produces goods for Western markets.

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