US energy chief welcomes China’s transparency on data

Updated: 2013-12-13 08:03

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily USA)

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China's promise to increase its energy-market transparency by publishing more complete energy data is a move "in the right direction", US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said.

China, which surpassed the US in September to become the world's largest oil importer, is now "a huge player in the oil markets", Moniz told reporters on the sidelines of the Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum in Manhattan. He repeated Vice-President Joe Biden's statement last week that the Asian nation's commitment to develop the capacity to publish more complete public energy statistics more frequently would help the functioning of global energy markets and reduce price volatility.

The White House said last week that Biden and Chinese officials agreed to expand cooperation on energy-data transparency during Biden's visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The US has offered China "technical assistance" to set up a data-dissemination agency modeled after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Moniz said.

The EIA, part of the US Department of Energy, disperses data, analyses, products and reports on coal, petroleum, natural gas, electric, renewable and nuclear energy. Established in 1977 in the wake of the US energy crisis, it seeks to "promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment", according to the agency's website.

Lucian Pugliaresi, president of the Washington-based Energy Policy Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that produces reports on oil and gas developments, called China's stated commitment to expand energy-data transparency "an extremely good idea".

"When we look at China data we are often confused as to what's happening," Pugliaresi said during a panel discussion on advanced energy and investing in the future. "We get a lot of inaccurate signals about long-term growth, particularly in petroleum," he said. "So I applaud this effort."

His fellow panelist, Wal van Lierop, CEO of Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said health hazards related to China's severe air-pollution necessitate having an accurate statistical picture of the country's energy use, particularly since China is the world's biggest source of climate-changing carbon emissions. "They need it because of the daily health problems," van Lierop told the forum. "We need to be tapped into what they are doing, because, boy, will they drive change rapidly. And they have to change."

Another member of the panel, Dan Arvizu, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the US Energy Department's primary laboratory for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and development, said as the US and China increase collaboration, "we need to have more dialogue," and providing accurate information about China's energy market is a big step.

The importance of increased transparency was highlighted by the reaffirmation during Biden's visit of an agreement reached in June between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to work together to phase down consumption of hydroflouorcarbons, a strong greenhouse gas used in refrigeration that is said to be more potent that carbon dioxide.

China's government seeks to cut the 2005 rate of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP growth by 40 to 45 percent by decade's end.

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