BEIJING, July 20 -- China overtook the United States last year to become the world's largest energy user, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing the International Energy Agency.
China's rise to the top ranking was faster than had been expected in part because the United States has outpaced China in improving energy efficiency measures over the past decade.
The IEA warned that the energy use figures for China last year were still preliminary, but that the trend was clear, the newspaper reported.
In 2000, the United States -- the world's largest economy -- consumed twice as much energy as China, but China, which is now the world's third-largest economy, now consumes more than the United States, the report quoted Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, as saying.
During the period, the United States had improved efficiency in energy use by 2.5 percent annually while China only managed 1.7 percent annual improvement.
China last year consumed 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent of energy from sources including coal, oil, natural gas, hyrdro and nuclear power, about 4 percent more than the United States, the IEA told the paper.
China's energy demand growth has largely braved the global financial crisis that hit the United States and Europe.