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APEC Calls for “Aspirational Goal” of 25% Reduction in Energy Intensity to Reduce GHG Emissions, Supports A Post-Kyoto Agreement

APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders issued a joint declaration at the end of their summit calling for an “aspirational goal” of a reduction in energy intensity of at least 25% by 2030 (with 2005 as the base year) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The “Sydney Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development” suggests that all economies should contribute to the goal, “taking into account national circumstances and allowing for a range of market-based policy measures.”

The declaration says that the member countries will also work to increase forest cover by at least 20 million hectares by 2020. The additional forest cover would store approximately 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to around 11% of annual global emissions (in 2004), according to the statement.

Other items in the “APEC Action Agenda” are:

  • Establishing an Asia-Pacific Network for Energy Technology (APNet) to strengthen collaboration on energy research in our region particularly in areas such as clean fossil energy and renewable energy sources;

  • Establishing an Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation to enhance capacity building and strengthen information sharing in the forestry sector;

  • Developing further measures in trade in environmental goods and services, aviation transport, alternative and low carbon energy uses, energy security, the protection of marine biological resources, policy analysis capabilities and a co-benefit approach.

On the global front, the declaration reaffirmed the members’ commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and called for a post-Kyoto international climate change arrangement that strengthens, broadens and deepens the current arrangements and leads to reduced global emissions of greenhouse gases.

We are committed to the global objective of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. The world needs to slow, stop and then reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

APEC economies that are Parties to the UNFCCC agree to work actively and constructively toward a comprehensive post-2012 arrangement at this year’s UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. We pledge our strong support for Indonesia in its role as President of the Conference in Bali in December.

...We agree to work through bilateral, regional and global partnerships to promote clean development, recognising that the UN climate process is the appropriate multilateral forum for international negotiations on climate change.

The declaration outlined a number of principles the APEC leaders said must underpin “an equitable and effective post-2012 international climate change arrangement

  • Comprehensiveness. All economies contributing to shared global goals in ways that are equitable, and environmentally and economically effective.

  • Respect for different domestic circumstances and capacities.

  • Flexibility. The declaration underlined the importance of the effective operation of market mechanisms.

  • The important role for low and zero emissions energy sources and technologies. “Co-operation, including joint research, development, deployment and transfer of low and zero emission technologies for their cleaner use, particularly coal, will be essential. It is also important to enhance energy efficiency and diversify energy sources and supplies, including renewable energy.

  • The importance of forests and land use.

  • Promoting open trade and investment.

  • Support for effective adaptation strategies.

Comments

Rafael Seidl

Some environmental NGOs have already dismissed this agreement as not worth the paper its written on, because there are no binding targets and no sanctions for failing to meet them.

That, however, misses an important point. For the first time ever, China and the US have acknowledged that CO2 emissions are a global issue, that they are part of the problem and that they have an obligation to make substantive contributions to the solution.

What that substance will be has been left open, which is frustrating. But at least there is an understanding that only concerted multilateral action is going to have any effect at all. Politics is the art of the possible, and until Jan 20, 2009, that is as far as the US will go.

---

IMHO, climate change isn't even the primary motivation for this symbolic step by US and China. Rather, it is apparently beginning to dawn on the respective governments that current growth rates in global demand for oil will at some point - probably sooner than later - no longer be met by growth in supply, except if oil prices are allowed to reach triple digits.

Oil is really beginning to run out in a few places (e.g. the North Sea) but world-wide there is still plenty of it. The problem is that most of the easily produced remaining reserves are concentrated in a fairly small number of countries, some of which have very assertive governments (e.g. Russia, Venezuela, Iran) while others represent very high investment risks (e.g. Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria).

I'd like to believe that neither China nor the US wants to risk a future war over oil. Well, at least the Chinese don't appear to. For that reason, it is their own enlightened self-interest to curb their oil consumption, initially per unit of GDP and later, in absolute terms. It is also in their interest not to merely replace oil with CTL, no matter how much domestic coal each of them has, because they don't want climate change to become an excuse for future trade protectionism.

China will be able to make a lot of progress in its appetite for oil simply by upgrading its infrastructure to modern, more efficient infrastructure. Along the way, they will have to avoid some of the pitfalls of rapid growth, in particular a preference for cars in favor of public transportation.

The US will find reducing its oil consumption harder. Much of its manufacturing industry has already disappeared or moved overseas. That leaves space heating/cooling and transportation as the most important sectors in which additional efficiencies are available. This, however, takes persistent effort over several decades. That is a much longer timescale than US politicians and corporations usually have to deal with.

Kit P.

Rafael you may want to read THE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY published in May of 2001. Energy and AGW have been a priority of the Bush administration from the beginning. The results of a rational policy are now being seen.

Nick

In my view, one of the tragedies of China's recent development push is that they chose to build an auto manufacturing industry and develop an auto-based transportation system instead of choosing a public-transit based pattern of development. What a missed opportunity!

jack

Rafael you may want to read THE NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY published in May of 2001. Energy and AGW have been a priority of the Bush administration from the beginning. The results of a rational policy are now being seen.

Why is this lame troll still posting here?

critta

Good to see Rafael bringing together the twin challenges of climate change and climate change. The two will interact in unpredictable ways, largely because governments don't want to acknowledge peak oil. I disagree with the detail though. The North Sea isn't the only giant oilfield seeing declining production. You can add Mexico's Cantarell field and possibly the super giant Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia.New oild discoceries peaked in the 1960's. There may be some new discoveries but they will be in the deep sea or other places where drilling and extraction costs are very high.

As for the point of the post. Aspirational targets are essentially meaningless and hard to understand as a response to a planetary crisis. If you have an invasive cancer do you ask the surgeon to first slow it down and then eventually reverse or do you ask them to get rid of the lot? But at least this agreement provides a platform, however small, towards a binding global agreement post 2012.

AUSSIE PAUL

This is little more than a face saving stunt by the two biggest recalcitrants, Australia and United States, so that they can sneak back into the fold of the United Nations Framework Convention without admitting they were wrong not to ratify Kyoto. John Howard's popularity has being seriously damaged by his denialist stance and his attempts to change the electorate's view of him has driven this agreement more than anything else.

Ender

Rafael - "That, however, misses an important point. For the first time ever, China and the US have acknowledged that CO2 emissions are a global issue"

Yes and they have said that sometime in the future they might aspire to meet some sort of possible, but not defined, reduction of emissions as long as they have nothing better to do and/or it does not get in the way of anything that they might be doing at the time.

This is the diplomatic equivalent of "I am washing my hair".

In fact it is worse than no agreement at all because the main polluters can now say they have an agreement therefore they are green however the agreement means nothing and delivers nothing.

Sort of "Yes I will go out with you however every time you ask I will be washing my hair"

Ender

AUSSIE PAUL - "This is little more than a face saving stunt by the two biggest recalcitrants"

Yes and it is one more reason to vote for the other lizard in the next elections. Howard has done enough irreparable damage to Australia's once great reputation on the environment and other matters.

Mind you you can only vote for lizards and the Labor one might be worse and this is from a member. Time will tell.

(Lizard references read "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" - puts politics in perspective)

DS

My Aspirational Goal is to lose 20lb. I've consistently held to this Goal for ten years.

Stan Peterson

@Rafael,

Certainly some significant manufacturing has moved off shore from the USA. But there has been much more shifting of market share, within manufacturing companies than where the manufacturing is now done.

The North American market was just over 17 million LDV vehicles, in 2006. The North American manufacture of LDV vehicles was just over 16 million LDV vehicles.

Certainly, GM, Ford have lost market share. But I hold no grief if Toyota is making a better mousetrap. Camrys and Altimas are now manufactured in America which is what has happened, instead of as many Chevys and Fords.

In the auto business, American manufacturing going overseas, the common knowledge, is much less true in fact, than the common perception, influenced by perceptions of troubles for traditional domestic automakers.

If you look at other basic industry, the picture is similar. Steel manufacture fits a similar pattern. The old line "full line" steel producers have lost market share, but North America is filled with "Mini Mill" steel firms that make steel from recycled steel. That is a much more efficient process, instead of melting 2-5% iron oxide; making new steel from steel scrap is already 95+% steel scrap to start with, and you don't repay for the refinement. It is possible because the US has been industrialized for so long that a substantial inventory of pre-used steel exists.

The same pattern has yet to emerge in the Aluminum business but the beginnings of such a process is discernible and inevitable. In these two fundamental industries, the energy intensity is already way down; something that has happened much lesser degree in the rest of the world.

As the American humorist Will Rogers remarked: "...its not so much that the 'common knowledge' is unknown; but that the 'common knowledge' is wrong..."

jack

The North American market was just over 17 million LDV vehicles, in 2006. The North American manufacture of LDV vehicles was just over 16 million LDV vehicles.

16/17=94%

"80% of vehicles sold in NA are locally produced."

As the American humorist Will Rogers remarked: "...its not so much that the 'common knowledge' is unknown; but that the 'common knowledge' is wrong..."

So are many challenges to "common knowledge."

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