China’s Botched Coal Statistics?

Abstract Considering that energy-to-GDP elasticities of most developing countries are well above one, the ability of the Chinese government to decouple its economic growth from energy consumption was impressive. While the reported GDP in China grew continuously even during the Asian Financial Crisis, China’s energy statistics declined unexpectedly between 1996 and 1999 before strongly rebounding afterward. The implied energy-to-GDP elasticities between 1996 and 2004 ranged from -0.59 to 1.19. As both the minimum and maximum values have never been witnessed since the beginning of the economic reform era, doubts were raised regarding the credibility of China’s energy statistics. Taking a closer look, one finds that the absurd “V” shape of the energy trend was primarily caused by a 17% drop in coal consumption from 1996 to 2000 and a 55% rebound between 2000 and 2004. Now, the question becomes: what happened to China’s coal statistics?
Date 2006
Author Tu, J.
Series China Brief 6
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2 Coal, 2.1 General Status Reports