ASEAN ministers agree to strengthen sustainable energy

South-East Asian energy ministers agreed on Thursday to strengthen sustainable energy development through the expanding markets for renewable technologies and intensify regional cooperation in enhancing energy integration.

ASEAN ministers agree to strengthen sustainable energy
South-East Asian energy ministers agreed on Thursday to strengthen sustainable energy development through the expanding markets for renewable technologies and intensify regional cooperation in enhancing energy integration.

In a joint statement wrapping up the meeting Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) energy ministers agreed to establish a Nuclear Energy Safety Sub-Sector Network to explore nuclear safety issues.

They signed a memorandum of understanding on an ASEAN Power Grid "to serve as a reference document for the coordination and facilitation of the programmes to implement the power interconnection projects" in the region.

Through a policy framework and modalities for power and interconnection and trade, the ministers recognized the MoU "will pave the way for the important implementation of the grid."

Efforts undertaken by member countries in the past year to promote the production and utilization of renewable energy were praised.

The ministers acknowledged the strides taken in energy cooperation partnerships with the European Union and noted interest expressed by China and Russia for closer cooperation in the energy sector.

The ministers scheduled the next energy meeting in Thailand 2008.

The environmental group Greenpeace called on the grouping to adopt binding renewable energy and efficiency targets to avert dangerous climate change.

The ministers discussed nuclear safety among the issues at the meeting which could pave the way toward introducing nuclear energy to the region.

Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have all said they hope to develop atomic power by 2020.

"The urgent need for decisive action is now," Athena Ballesteros, Greenpeace International climate and energy campaigner, told a news briefing. "ASEAN must establish among its governments" the right energy and climate policy.

Opening the conference, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar said the four key priorities for ASEAN were improving energy efficiency; developing competitive regional energy markets; investing in energy research; and promotion a clean environment.

"As one of the fastest growing regions, ASEAN requires increasing energy supplies," he said. "There is an increasing need for affordable and reliable energy supplies to support the rapid pace of economic expansion."

While seeking to diversify the energy mix to enhance security, it is important that governments pay attention to energy sources that are clean, Jayakumar added.

A joint report by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council said adopting nuclear power proposals are very dangerous due to the inherent risks nuclear power poses in addition to ASEAN's geologically unstable areas and governance problems.

It cited the July 16 earthquake that caused a small water leak at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan.

"Besides the dangers of accidents and unresolved issues of nuclear waste storage, building a nuclear power plant involves enormous financial and opportunity costs, diverting funds from clean, safe and far more economical renewable technologies," the report said.

Investing in a renewable energy future will save 10 times the fuel costs of a "business as usual" fossil-fuelled scenario, saving 180 billion US dollars annually and cutting carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030, Ballesteros said.

She described nuclear power and so-called "clean coal" being discussed by ASEAN as "false, costly and dangerous" solutions to climate change and energy security while renewable energy including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bio energy makes "economic sense."

ASEAN comprises Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma).

The energy ministers held the one-day meeting, first among themselves and then were joined by counterparts from China, South Korea and Japan.

The South-East Asian region ranks third highest in carbon dioxide emissions among developing countries, following China and India.

By shifting to renewable energy, East Asia stands to save as much 2 trillion US dollars in fossil fuel costs over the next 23 years and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22 per cent from 2003 levels, said Jasper Inventor, Greenpeace South-East Asia Climate spokesman.

DPA
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2007, 00:15
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