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China, IEA not seeing eye to eye

South Africa and Russia sign MOUs with IEA as the agency tries to
broaden its reach but one country remains on the sidelines - China.

PARIS // The International Energy Agency (IEA) broadened its cooperation with South Africa, Russia and India this week with agreements on energy security and efficiency. China, however, is notably absent from the list.

The world's biggest energy consumer sent an envoy to a ministerial summit yesterday at the IEA, which represents the energy interests of 28 industrialised nations.

Wu Guihui, the chief engineer and director general for the department of international cooperation of China's national energy administration, took a low profile on the meeting's sidelines, declining to comment to reporters and deflecting questions to IEA delegates.

China has gone head to head with the IEA in the past about how each measures carbon dioxide emissions, which has led to some "tensions", said Tom Grieder, the Asia-Pacific energy analyst at IHS Global Insight.

"China doesn't like being told to do a lot more to combat climate change when it sees itself as doing a lot more already," Mr Grieder said from Vienna. "It sees developed countries like the US as not doing enough." China's cooperation with international players has remained largely at the corporate level, such as partnerships between its national oil companies and international producers, he said.

With 9.1 per cent economic growth and an appetite for energy that surpassed the US's two years ago, China's oil demand is important to Opec and the IEA alike.

Opec has voiced the need for exchanging more information with China about its energy needs, and the IEA said in its latest oil market report that it would like more information on China's oil stocks.

This week China reported that its third-quarter economic growth was an annualised 9.1 per cent, lower than expected, and that vehicle sales were up 3.3 per cent this year compared with growth last year of more than 30 per cent.

Yesterday the IEA projected an image of close cooperation with China, including helping it to create a wind-energy plan.

ayee@thenational.ae

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