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Published September 9, 2007 09:33 AM

APEC: Aspirational Goals on Climate

If the world’s leaders had an easy fix for climate change they’d probably embrace it. But they don’t have one. No one does.

What leaders do have is fear of what they think would happen in the near term to the world’s economies with the massive cut in greenhouse gases that’s needed now. (They don’t fear what will happen to the world in the long term when they’ve passed on and are forgotten; the two-thirds cut in polar bear population over the next fifty years according to the US Geological Survey, for instance.

Short term thinking is not what political leadership is supposed to be about, is it?

Asia-Pacific leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Sydney have reached a deal on climate change. More accurately, they’ve shaken hands on a statement as to what they’d like to see the 21 member economies do to combat the climate problem. (APEC nations represent 41 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of the annual global greenhouse gas emissions.)

There’s nothing binding in the agreement. But there are aspirational goals. (All of us have goals we aspire to, don’t we?)


Among the goals are a reduction in energy intensity of at least 25 percent by 2030 with 2005 as the base year. Energy intensity is the amount of energy used to produce a dollar of gross domestic product.

If energy intensity can be interpreted as energy efficiency this is probably an attainable goal.

The leaders also called for increased forest cover in the Asia-Pacific region of at least 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of all types of forests by 2020. This goal, if achieved, would store approximately 1.4 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to around 11 per cent of annual global emissions (as measured in 2004). This goal would be buttressed by the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation to strengthen information sharing in the forestry sector.

The leaders agreed, too, to promote policies that advance the deployment of low and zero emission energy, particularly clean coal that includes carbon capture and storage.

Further, they want energy research to be shared through the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Network for Energy Technology (APNet). Research sharing would also include renewables. Specifically, the statement includes support for the development of criteria for performance-based biodiesel standards.

The difficulty with the statement is that none of this is set in stone. There are only those goals to aspire to. Right now, something more than aspirations is needed.


Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Sydney APEC Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development.



US Geological Survey

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