China tops global consumption of materials: UN
Beijing: China, whose domestic material consumption is four times that of the US, is the world's largest consumer of minerals and fossil fuels, but this has lead to intense environmental pressures, a new UN report says.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said that China's growing affluence has made it the world's largest consumer of primary materials such as construction minerals, metal ores, fossil fuels and biomass.
Its domestic material consumption levels are now four times that of the US, the report said.
From 1970 to 2008, China's per capita consumption of materials grew from one third to over one and a half times the world's average levels.
Domestic consumption of natural resources per capita increased at almost twice the rate of the whole of the Asia Pacific region due to massive investments in urban infrastructure, energy systems and manufacturing capacity, the report said.
The report notes, however, that some 20 per cent of the resource use in China goes towards the production of goods which are eventually consumed abroad.
"China has seen dramatic growth in past decades and the effect of this transition on global demand for natural resources is unprecedented," UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said.
"While that growth has lifted millions out of poverty, it has also come with rising environmental challenges linked to the extracting, processing and use of those natural resources," the UN official said.
China at the same time remained among the most successful in improving resource efficiency, state-run China Radio International reported.