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US And Australia Reject Asia-Pacific Carbon Trade Scheme

A storm off the coast of Darwin, Australia. The Darwin APEC meeting was aimed at finding a balance between the need to reduce the carbon emissions blamed for global warming and the voracious appetite for energy among APEC's expanding economies.
by Staff Writers
Darwin, Australia (AFP) May 29, 2007
Hopes for an Asia Pacific-wide carbon emissions trading scheme were dashed Tuesday as APEC energy ministers met to discuss climate change and the region's booming power needs. The United States and Australia ruled out a regional carbon trading scheme before the meeting officially opened in the northern city of Darwin, saying it was too early to impose uniform targets on APEC nations.

US Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said each of the 21 countries in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum needed a strong economy if it was to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Each country brings its own unique circumstances, its own assets, its limitations and the important thing to remember is that a strong economy is the key enabler to addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions," Sell told reporters.

"If you don't have a strong economy you won't be able to afford the technologies that will allow you to reduce greenhouse gases," he said.

Sell said his country had already set a target to reduce carbon intensity by 18 percent by 2012 but dismissed the idea of a region-wide emissions scheme.

Flanked by Australian Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, Sell said there was no 'one-size-fits-all' solution for APEC, which includes economic powerhouses such as the United States and Japan, as well as emerging giant China.

"Different approaches will naturally suit different countries, one better than the other," Sell said. "So I think it's appropriate, and I believe it's the sense of all of the APEC economies, that each country must set its own path."

The Darwin meeting was aimed at finding a balance between the need to reduce the carbon emissions blamed for global warming and the voracious appetite for energy among APEC's expanding economies.

APEC members already account for 60 percent of global energy demand and their needs are expected to almost double by 2030.

Macfarlane, whose government is Washington's sole ally in refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, said APEC economies needed to develop clean energy technologies which could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"The challenge at the moment is not to set targets, it is to actually have the technology to achieve targets," Macfarlane told reporters.

"Once we know how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the challenge will then be to have those technologies employed and to set targets."

Despite Macfarlane's opposition to a regional carbon emissions scheme, he revealed the Australian government was considering setting up its own national carbon trading scheme.

Macfarlane said Prime Minister John Howard would receive a report on Thursday from a task force into emissions trading.

"We're considering a number of options in relation to how we deploy a carbon trading scheme and how that can be done in such a way (as) ... to lower greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

"We'll be looking at how we can deploy the technology as a result of that carbon scheme, how we can introduce it in such a way that it doesn't put jobs in Australia at risk."

Howard has long opposed a carbon emissions trading, arguing it could damage the economy, but he has moved to implement a scheme as an election looms later this year and opinion polls show widespread concern about the environment.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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