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. Asian Nations Make Energy Pledge

"China will continue to rely on itself to meet its energy need and priority will be given to raising energy efficiency," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said.
by Verna Yu
Cebu, Philippines (AFP) Jan 15, 2007
Sixteen Asian nations pledged Monday to work together to save energy and develop new supplies in order to cut the region's reliance on expensive oil imports. Winding up a half-day summit, they signed an energy accord vowing to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels, develop alternatives such as biofuels, open up their energy markets and work to cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

While the pact does not set target dates, and largely repeats a similar statement they issued at the last East Asia Summit in December 2005, leaders underlined the importance of taking urgent regional action on energy.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, whose country is one of the world's biggest consumers of energy, urged nations to "develop a new thinking" to help meet the region's needs in the years to come.

"We are prepared to take an active part in international cooperation to ensure stability of the regional and global energy market," he told the summit.

The accord acknowledges that "fossil fuels underpin our economies and will be an enduring reality in our lifetime" and says the region should consider fuel stockpiling to help manage the volatility of prices and demand.

But it highlights the problems of limited reserves, unstable world oil prices, worsening environmental problems and an urgent need to counter global warming and climate change.

"China will continue to rely on itself to meet its energy need and priority will be given to raising energy efficiency," Wen said.

"Our goal is to meet the target of a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP in 2010."

The Cebu Declaration on Energy Security was issued at the end of the East Asia summit, which groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations with Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The declaration stresses the need to strengthen renewable energy development such as biofuels and promote open trade and cooperation in the sector.

"Renewable energy and nuclear power will represent an increasing share of global supply," it says.

Biofuels, natural gas, nuclear power for selected countries, hydro-electricity and renewable energy should reduce reliance on traditional energy sources, it says.

The pact reaffirms the bloc's collective commitment to energy security, saying reliable and affordable supplies are essential for strong and sustainable growth.

It calls on nations to "explore possible modes of strategic fuel stockpiling" including "multi-country and or regional voluntary and commercial arrangements."

Calls to reduce dependence on oil intensified after prices surged to historic peaks last year. While prices have dropped since, their continued volatility -- owing in part to geopolitical tensions -- remains a concern.

earlier related report
Gore Urges Japanese Execs To Lead Fight Against Global Warming
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 15 - Former US vice president and environmental activist Al Gore urged Japanese business leaders Monday to set an example for companies around the world in tackling climate change. "The business leadership of Japan can lead the way and lead the business community of the world," said Gore.

"Your determination to be a part of the solution can be the key to the world successfully resolving this crisis," he told a gathering of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren).

Gore, who was in Japan to promote his documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth, said Japanese executives could play a pivotal role in persuading the United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol that aims to restrict the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

"The tipping point for the US is influenced by the business community as much as anything," Gore said.

"And the Japanese business community can have a powerful influence on the shaping of opinions within the US business community," he added.

Gore said an unusually warm winter in Japan and cherry blossoms in the US capital three months early were worrying portents.

"Our planet now has a fever. And it's not going away," he said. "We have a moral obligation to those coming after us."

Japan is a frontrunner in energy-efficient technologies. Earlier Monday its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a two billion dollar aid package to help Asian nations develop energy-saving technology at a summit in the Philippines.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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