Asia Pacific partnership focus on voluntary targets slated

The controversial Asia-Pacific partnership nations met this week in Australia to discuss clean development issues amid criticisms that little apart from 'business as usual' would be achieved.

The six nation group, comprising Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and United States, claim to have agreed on a “ground breaking new model for international climate change and energy collaboration” which would “redefine the way climate change, energy security and air pollution will be addressed” in the future.

However, critics have pointed out that the only thing groundbreaking in their agreement or that would redefine the way climate change is addressed, is the removal of targets and legal obligations that would force nations and companies to act on reducing their emissions.

The outcomes of the meeting among the six nations included:

  • a recognition that clean development and lower greenhouse gas emissions requires economic as it is growth and investment that will deliver the new technologies to reduce emissions;

  • agreement that governments and business must work together to achieve sustained economic growth and lower greenhouse gas emissions; and

  • a public commitment to real actions.

    The Partnership also established eight government and business taskforces on various aspects of climate change and clean development.

    However, critics have accused the partnership as a cynical diversion from progress made on the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal.

    “The Australian Government argues that this partnership will succeed where Kyoto has supposedly failed, but following the success in Montreal, Kyoto is alive and kicking like never before. It would seem that the Americans and Australians are pushing a dead duck,” said Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International Climate Change Campaigner.

    “Voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions simply do not work. Without clear targets to drive market investment in sustainable technologies, little will be achieved. The Asia Pacific partners should stop trying to reinvent the wheel and invest their energies in driving forward the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol instead.”

    There were no environmental representatives at the meeting, only delegates from energy companies and governments.

    A press release from the Australian Government said that fossil fuels would remain the dominant source of world energy for the next century and statements have indicated that investments in such technologies as clean coal would be needed to combat emissions.

    Friends of the Earth International claim that the US and Australia are simply using the meeting to deflect attention away from their inaction over Kyoto and to “secure the coal markets in Asia on which their economies are increasingly dependent.”

    The six nation partnership first met last July to discuss ways to increase investment in clean technologies (see related story).

    David Hopkins

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