APEC countries set "aspirational goals" on climate change

Saturday, September 8, 2007

APEC leaders discuss issues at the Sydney Opera House.
Image: APEC 2007 Taskforce..

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced that leaders of APEC nations have agreed on "aspirational goals" on climate change. The agreement, which Prime Minister Howard calls the Sydney declaration focuses on reducing energy intensity (the amount of energy used to produce a dollar of gross domestic product), reforestation and technology sharing.

Despite Australia, the United States and China being non-signatories to the United Nations' Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas reductions which is set to expire in 2012, the APEC accord calls for "We call for a post-2012 international climate change arrangement ... that strengthens, broadens and deepens the current arrangement and leads to reduced global emissions of greenhouse gases," according to the draft declaration.

The declaration as agreed upon will be released on Sunday. The draft agreement recognised that action was required to "slow, stop and reverse" greenhouse gas emissions; that nations should vow to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent by 2030; that forest cover in the region should be increased by 50 million acres by 2020; and that APEC nations will work with other nations to find a solution to climate change. The declaration is non-binding and is simply a statement of goals to which the nations will try to achieve.

Host nation Australia has been criticised by China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia for putting climate change on the agenda at the APEC summit, saying they would prefer dialogue on climate change to occur under a United Nationa framework. Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said "the APEC meeting does not replace the appropriate forum to deal with climate change."

Mr Wiraydua said that despite Indonesia not being entirely satisfied with the declaration they would "live with it".

Environmental group Greenpeace has rejected the APEC statement because it doesn't set firm targets and includes the use of nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuels.


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