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  Business Times Singapore 16 Jan 07
Asean and 6 partners sign renewable energy declaration

PlanetArk 16 Jan 07
Asian Leaders Sign Energy Pact at Landmark Summit
Story by Bill Tarrant

Today Online 16 Jan 07
Singapore can host Asian energy talks
Nuclear power needs to be discussed more, says PM Lee
Sharon Vasoo

WWF 16 Jan 07
Stronger rules needed for East Asian clean energy transition

Channel NewsAsia 15 Jan 07
ASEAN leaders sign energy pact as summit closes
By Channel NewsAsia Philippines Correspondent Christine Ong

Channel NewsAsia 13 Jan 07
PM Lee suggests ASEAN Declaration on Environmental Sustainability at next summit
By Wong Siew Ying and S Ramesh

CEBU: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has suggested that ASEAN work towards a Declaration on Environmental Sustainability at the next summit.

Speaking during the Leader's Retreat at the summit meeting in Cebu in the Philippines, Mr Lee stressed that ASEAN also needs to be effective in dealing with trans-border challenges.

One area of shared concern is the environment as it affected the physical well-being of people and economies.

Specifically, Mr Lee said ASEAN must work hard to tackle the problem of the haze as its likely to be worse next year with the El Nino effect. Singapore, he said, appreciates Indonesia's efforts to resolve the problem at its root. The Republic is working with Indonesia to develop sustainable land-clearing practices in the Jambi province.

Another critical issue for ASEAN to address is energy as there is a need to enhance energy efficiency and conservation. The Prime Minister suggested that ASEAN work towards the long-term goal of an open regional energy market, which includes key infrastructures like the ASEAN Power Grid and Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline.

He added that it is also a good idea to develop alternative fuels such as biofuels, biomass, and even nuclear power but stressed that countries must pay close attention to security, environment, health and safety aspects.

Mr Lee said it was important to have a robust regional nuclear safety regime in place before nuclear plants come into operation and this was something that Asean's officials should look into.

Turning to the Singapore Chairmanship of ASEAN in August, Mr Lee said Singapore's planning a whole year of activities to commemorate the regional grouping's 40th Anniversary.

The Prime Minister stressed that the region is on the ascent and now is the time for ASEAN to take decisive action so as to secure the regional grouping's place in the world, for a brighter future for its people. - CNA /dt

Channel NewsAsia 15 Jan 07
ASEAN leaders sign energy pact as summit closes
By Channel NewsAsia Philippines Correspondent Christine Ong

CEBU : Asian nations have urged North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons programme, and to address concerns over foreigners kidnapped by its regime. In a statement issued at the end of the 16-nation East Asia summit, leaders also pledged to seek ways to reduce oil dependency.

Two days after the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) completed its annual summit in Cebu, the grouping, together with its dialogue partners Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, China and South Korea, vowed to strengthen political solidarity, fight terrorism and create a free trade zone by 2015.

"We have been able to work on very concrete, specific projects of cooperation. What has made it successful is that it was not just a talk shop because we discussed concrete areas of cooperation," said Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

A key outcome of Monday's summit was the signing of an energy security pact that covers some of the world's most polluted countries. The pact seeks to reduce the region's dependence on costly crude oil through the use of biofuels, but offers no concrete targets.

The deal was boosted by Japan's pledge of a US$2 billion aid package to help Asian countries develop energy-saving technology.

The leaders also urged North Korea to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security guarantees. They unanimously backed UN sanctions on luxury goods which were imposed on North Korea after its nuclear and missile tests last year. "The sanctions refer to luxury goods and goods that may help North Korea to arm. But it doesn't cover basic necessities. So therefore, there should really be no conflict between wanting to make sure that the people do not suffer from the lack of basic necessities, and urging North Korea to denuclearise," said President Arroyo.

After a one month postponement due to bad weather and threats of terror attacks, President Arroyo proudly declared that the twin summits will boost the region's goals toward energy security, political integration, peace & stability, as well as increased trade. - CNA /ls

Business Times Singapore 16 Jan 07
Asean and 6 partners sign renewable energy declaration

LEADERS of Asean and six other nations yesterday signed a declaration that acknowledges the need to strengthen renewable energy development - such as in bio-fuel - and promote trade and cooperation in the sector and related industries.

The signing of the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security took place at the second East Asia Summit (EAS) being held in conjunction with the 12th Asean Summit in Cebu, the Philippines.

Under the declaration, Asean, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korean and New Zealand agreed to work together to reduce dependence on conventional fuel through greater energy efficiency and conservation, hydro power, expansion of renewable energy, bio-fuel production and - for interested parties - civilian nuclear power.

Also part of the declaration is a commitment to encourage open and competitive regional and international markets to help provide affordable energy at all economic levels, as well as investment in energy resource and infrastructure development through greater private sector involvement.

To achieve these goals, the signing countries have agreed to work towards freer trade in bio-fuel and a stand on bio-fuel used in engines and motor vehicles, to increase capacity and reduce the cost of renewable and alternative energy through innovative financing schemes, to encourage the recycling of oil revenue and profits for equity investments and to provide long-term, affordable loans for developing countries in the region.

Asean and its dialogue partners also agreed to pursue regional or bilateral cooperation through research and development, sharing of best practices and financing of energy products.

Additionally, the signing countries agreed to take concrete action to enhance international cooperation through intensified energy efficiency and conservation programmes.

During the East Asia Summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore endorses the declaration and believes cooperation in energy security should be a key follow-up area.

He suggested forming an expert working group to study possible energy cooperation among East Asia Summit members, and that the energy ministers meet to discuss all aspects of energy security. 'Singapore is prepared to host such a meeting if necessary,' he said.

Mr Lee also said Singapore recognises the potential for alternative and renewable energy, and believes the region has great potential for development of bio-fuel and other types of renewable energy.

PlanetArk 16 Jan 07
Asian Leaders Sign Energy Pact at Landmark Summit
Story by Bill Tarrant

PHILIPPINES: January 16, 2006 CEBU, Philippines - Leaders from 16 Asian nations, representing half the world's population, pledged on Monday to develop alternative energy supplies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement capped a week of high-level meetings on the Philippine resort island of Cebu that waded into issues as diverse as disease, disaster, trade and terrorism.

Southeast Asian leaders along with the heads of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand held their second East Asia summit in a more purposeful manner after last year's inaugural meeting.

Beijing and Tokyo used the forum sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to further mend ties. The 16 leaders urged North Korea on Monday to abandon nuclear weapons and respond to humanitarian concerns, including abductions of Japanese in previous decades.

But while Northeast Asian diplomacy featured at the summit, its centrepiece was an Energy Security pact that seeks to reduce the region's dependence on costly imported crude and help stave off climate change.

Most of the goals in the pact are vague or voluntary, however. And unlike the European Union, which last week unveiled ambitious energy proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, the leaders of some of the most polluted countries on the planet offered no concrete targets.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told Reuters in an interview the comparison was not entirely apt. "This is very early days in the East Asia context, to be talking about targets," she said.

The EU has commitments to cut emission under the Kyoto Protocol, while many of the East Asian countries have not signed up to the accord.

Heavy emphasis was put on promoting biofuels that use plantation crops such as sugar or palm oil as feed stock, not surprising since these are huge export commodities in Southeast Asia.

But there is no doubt about the magnitude of the problem facing these countries. Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to triple in Southeast Asia by 2030, while demand for energy will double during that period, according to ASEAN data.

FREE TRADE BLOC

The head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Haruhiko Kuroda, urged East Asian countries to create a vast trade bloc from India to New Zealand to pull 750 million of their three billion citizens out of dire poverty.

Officials at the summit said that while the idea is being studied, any such bloc is far into the future, if at all, and ASEAN's priority is to sign FTAs with individual countries represented at the summit.

"It's a big idea and I think the world needs big ideas in trade," Clark said. With world trade talks stalled since July and time running out to revive them, countries around the Pacific rim have agreed or are trying to hammer out a "noodle bowl" of around 50 local FTAs.

Both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China's Premier Wen Jiabao are vying to influence ASEAN as it becomes a more integrated political and economic bloc. Abe highlighted Tokyo's desire to play a more prominent security role in the region by agreeing to support Southeast Asian maritime security.

China and ASEAN agreed on Sunday to slash barriers on trade in services, which Wen said was a "crucial step" toward creating the world's most populous free trade area. "With the ASEAN moving forward towards firm accords on its own charter, security, overseas workers and trade, the prospect for the region becoming a formidable bloc in the world is well within reach," said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines, the host nation.

The leaders, who also endorsed a bird flu prevention "road map" that will share best practices, are anxious not to develop into a glorified chat room. They wondered after last year's inaugural meeting if it was worth having another, Arroyo told a concluding news conference.

"What has made it successful going into the second year is that it was not just a talk shop. We were talking about concrete areas of cooperation and most specifically energy security."

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Rosemarie Francisco and Manny Mogato)

Today Online 16 Jan 07
Singapore can host Asian energy talks
Nuclear power needs to be discussed more, says PM Lee
Sharon Vasoo in Cebu Deputy Foreign Editor sharon@mediacorp.com.sg

SINGAPORE has called for the formation of an expert group to look into energy cooperation in the East Asian community, at a time where countries in this region are scrambling for alternative sources of energy.

Voicing concerns that there may not be enough discussion on the issue of nuclear energy, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suggested that safety measures be put in place before individual countries in the region pursue their own nuclear energy programme.

He raised these points at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cebu the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) met with Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The 16 leaders of the East Asian community pledged to work together to save energy and look for new power supplies.

Mr Lee suggested that the experts table a report on the issue at the next summit to be held in Singapore at the end of the year.

Rising oil prices have increased Asia's appetite for nuclear power. Eighteen reactors about 70 per cent of the total number of reactors being constructed worldwide are in Asia, and another 77 have been planned or proposed, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry advocacy group based in Washington, DC. The countries that have nuclear plants include China, India and Indonesia.

Speaking to the Singapore media later, Mr Lee said: "We have to discuss how this should be done In the case of nuclear energy, if something goes wrong, it's not just the neighbourhood of the power station which is affected."

He cited the Chernobyl disaster as an example, saying the East Asian community needed to carry out a thorough study on the issue. The incident, the world's worst nuclear power accident, took place in Ukraine in 1986. More than 30 people were killed and thousands of survivors suffered long-term health effects from the radiation.

"We have to understand what the risks are [and] make sure that there are very clear, stringent rules," said Mr Lee, who suggested to the 16 leaders that "a regional safety and safeguard regime" be put in place.

Singapore, he added, was prepared to host a meeting for Energy Ministers in the region to discuss the security aspects.

Apart from energy issues and pushing ahead with economic integration, the next summit in Singapore will also focus on the Asean Charter, which gives the bloc a legal foundation for the first time since it was founded 40 years ago, Mr Lee noted.

"Well, it's the 40th year of Asean and it shouldn't be just fireworks and parties, we should do serious work to get Asean on a strong, firm footing for the next step," he said. "We are proposing rules to go beyond just a consensus, that this is (not) a gentlemen's club where if we all like it, we do it; if we don't like it, it doesn't matter and we do something else."

WWF 16 Jan 07
Stronger rules needed for East Asian clean energy transition

Cebu, the Philippines: A declaration on regional energy security signed by 16 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a first step in a process that needs to be taken forward and strengthened if it is going to have any impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change on the region, says WWF.

The Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security is the first ever regional statement on the need to tackle climate change. Although the statement falls short of what will be needed to face up to the clean energy transformation needed in the region, WWF agrees with the declaration's call for decreasing dependence on oil and increasing reliance on renewable energy sources.

"Climate change clearly poses a major threat to the livelihoods and environments of the ASEAN region, " stressed Hans Verolme, Director of WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.

"The most efficient and economic way to reduce oil dependence will be through a stronger region-wide effort on energy efficiency. Little will be achieved without targets and a regional target on reducing energy intensity could be a next step."

WWF believes ASEAN countries should constructively engage in the negotiations towards a meaningful Kyoto-Plus agreement that will keep the world safe from dangerous climate change.

The developed economies need to commit to further deeper emissions reduction targets, whereas emerging economies need to consider how to put their economies on the path towards a low-carbon future.

The acknowledgement of the growing need for renewable energy is positive, but the 16 signatory nations will need to implement new incentives and regulations if these cleaner energy sources are to become a major source of energy.

In particular, WWF supports the advancement of biofuels but warns that if these fuels are developed unsustainably there will be loss of Asia's rich biodiversity. "The transition to clean energy is full of opportunities for reducing our dependence on volatile energy imports, creating new energy efficient technologies and opening new green markets for goods and services," Verolme said.

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