MANILA, Philippines (ENS) - Government leaders from across Asia and the Pacific have agreed to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and promote cleaner technologies that address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy pact signed by the leaders of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, and its dialogue partners calls for a concerted regionwide effort to harness alternative sources of energy to ensure continuous energy supply for their growing economies in the face of dwindling world oil reserves.
The Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed after a summit last week in the central Philippine city of Cebu during which the leaders pledged to fight terrorism and disease, eradicate poverty, strengthen political solidarity, and create a free trade zone by 2015.
ASEAN's members are the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. They signed the declaration together with the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The government leaders cited the need to strengthen programs to develop renewable energy sources such as biofuels and hydropower sources since 'these resources are important aspects of our national energy policies.'
The leaders agreed to work closely together to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of fossil fuel use.
They will encourage the use of biofuels and 'work towards freer trade on biofuels and a standard on biofuels used in engines and motor vehicles.'
They pledged to reduce dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency and conservation programmes, hydropower, expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production/utilization, and for interested parties, civilian nuclear power.
The leaders said they would mitigate greenhouse gas emission through effective policies and measures, thus contributing to global climate change abatement.
The entire effort will be market-based. The leaders declared they would pursue and encourage investment on energy resource and infrastructure development through greater private sector involvement, and encourage the 'open and competitive regional and international markets geared towards providing affordable energy at all economic levels.'
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo today directed the Department of Energy to 'dovetail all our pertinent programs with the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security so that we can participate actively in pursuing the common ends defined by the leaders.'
President Arroyo also today signed into law the Biofuels Act of 2006 which seeks to reduce dependence on imported fuels.
The act mandates that within two years, all liquid fuels for motors and engines sold in the Philippines shall contain at least five percent locally sourced bioethanol.
Ford Group Philippines Chairman Henry Co expressed full support for the mandatory use of biofuel by oil companies based in the Philippines. 'We have a lot of resources to support ethanol production,' Co said.
Clean coal will be an important part of the energy picture, under the Cebu Declaration, and especially for coal producing nations Australia and China.
In Cebu, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao formally established the Australia-China Joint Coordination Group on Clean Coal Technology.
The Group will include representatives from government, the scientific community and from industry. The two countries will share knowledge gained through clean coal projects, implement joint clean coal technology projects, and projects on using coal mine methane as a clean energy source.
'Premier Wen and I have agreed that this is a significant and important initiative for Australia and for China,' said Prime Minister Howard. 'We have discussed potential members of the group and I look forward to announcing the agreed members in due course. We expect the first meeting of the Australia-China Joint Coordination Group on Clean Coal Technology to be in early April.'
The two countries also cooperate closely in the technology focused Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the Methane to Markets Partnership, and the APEC Energy Working Group.