Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A modecome of progress on climate change in Asia.

The ASEAN nations have just (15 Jan, 2007) signed the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security. Much like progress throughout the rest of the world, this can be seen as progress and commitment to improving energy infrastructure but not as a serious assault on the worlds ever escalating emissions. Patterns of growth in energy consumption and deforestation are so extreme that an ad hoc assemblage of --even well thought out--policies and measures are never going to lead to the dramatic reductions in emissions required, only a mitigation of accelerating trends.

I don't think that the world can seriously be considered to be fighting climate change at the current time. Without a global framework--most plausibly Contraction and Convergence--and tough targets that are based on the science, policies will continue to be commensurate with what is comfortable and advantageous for competition, not what is required.

This, like so many other international agreements, can therefore only be viewed as progress in the sense that those involved are building capacity and gaining experience. Given the tremendously time constrained nature of the climate challenge this incremental ism is not an encouraging behaviour to be coming from our national leaders. We need radical change, we need to learn as we act, putting a toe in the water is often fine, in our situation however, the spectre of a rapidly destabilising climate is advancing on us at such speed that we better swim soon if we are to save a significant proportion of our biodiversity, our political systems and of course our economies.

WE, the Heads of State/Government of the Member Countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, People's Republic of China, Republic of India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand, on the occasion of the Second East Asia Summit on 15 January 2007 in Cebu, Philippines;

RECOGNISING the limited global reserve of fossil energy, the unstable world prices of fuel oil, the worsening problems of environment and health, and the urgent need to address global warming and climate change;

RECOGNISING that our energy needs are growing rapidly, and will necessitate large-scale investments in the coming decades;

ACKNOWLEDGING that fossil fuels underpin our economies, and will be an enduring reality for our lifetimes;

RECOGNISING that renewable energy and nuclear power will represent an increasing share of global supply;

ACKNOWLEDGING the need to strengthen renewable energy development such as in biofuels, and to promote open trade, facilitation and cooperation in the sector and related industries;

HIGHLIGHTING the fundamental need of countries in East Asia for reliable, adequate and affordable energy supplies which are essential for strong and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness;

CONSIDERING further that the First East Asia Summit had agreed to enhance cooperation by promoting energy security;

RECOGNISING the need to pursue energy policies and strategies best suited to each country's national circumstances, which will lead to sustainable development;

NOTING that biofuel and hydropower resources are renewable and as such harnessing these resources is an important aspect of our national energy policies;

REAFFIRMING our collective commitment to ensuring energy security for our region;


To work closely together towards the following goals:

  1. Improve the efficiency and environmental performance of fossil fuel use;
    Reduce dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency and conservation programmes, hydropower, expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production/utilisation, and for interested parties, civilian nuclear power;

  2. Encourage the open and competitive regional and international markets geared towards providing affordable energy at all economic levels;

  3. Mitigate greenhouse gas emission through effective policies and measures, thus contributing to global climate change abatement; and

  4. Pursue and encourage investment on energy resource and infrastructure development through greater private sector involvement.

And to achieve these goals, through the following measures:

  • Encourage the use of biofuels and work towards freer trade on biofuels and a standard on biofuels used in engines and motor vehicles;
    Take concrete action toward improving efficiency and conservation, while enhancing international cooperation through intensified energy efficiency and conservation programmes;

  • Set individual goals and formulate action plans voluntarily for improving energy efficiency; Increase capacity and reduce costs of renewable and alternate energy sources through innovative financing schemes;

  • Encourage collective efforts in intensifying the search for new and renewable energy resources and technologies, including research and development in biofuels;

  • Ensure availability of stable energy supply through investments in regional energy infrastructure such as the ASEAN Power Grid and the Trans ASEAN Gas Pipeline;
    Encourage recycling of oil revenues and profits for equity investments and long term, affordable loan facilities for developing countries in the region;

  • Explore possible modes of strategic fuel stockpiling such as individual programmes, multi-country and/or regional voluntary and commercial arrangements;

  • Promote clean use of coal and development of clean coal technologies and international environmental cooperation towards mitigating global climate change;

  • Pursue regional or bilateral cooperation through research and development, sharing of best practices, and financing of energy products; and Assist less developed countries in enhancing national capacity building in achieving the above goals.The necessary follow-up actions to ensure implementation of the above measures, including appropriate reporting, will be undertaken through existing ASEAN mechanisms in close consultations among EAS participants.

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    At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    South-east Asia's palm oil industry will be celebrating. They've just drawn up plans for Indonesia's single biggest biodiesel/palm oil project as yet. Sinar Mas may just have got closer to realising its dream of destroying the 'Heart of Borneo' and getting the megaplantation which NGOs wrongly thought they'd stopped last year. Sustainable palm oil? The likes of Sinar Mas certainly don't waste their time with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil - they don't need to. With most of the new plantations now planned in the peatlands, that's probably some 50 billion tonnes of carbon up in smoke (or rather committed to going into the atmosphere). Some concrete results for the climate indeed!

    Almuth Ernsting

    At 9:54 PM, Blogger Calvin Jones said...

    I think i agree with your point, the goals of the plan seem reasonable enough but there does seem to be a fair bit of talk on biofuels in the section on how these goals are going to be achieved.

    I guess the question is weather the member take seriously the issues mentioned in the plan, or weather the whole project is simply a way to couch unsustinable development in popular political rhetoric.


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