Climate Change Partnership Pursues Multiple Goals

By Charlene Porter
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – The U.S.-led Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is plotting a course to achieve its goals to attain energy security and accelerate the deployment of clean energy and technology in ways that promote economic development and reduce poverty.

Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States are members of the voluntary initiative, which was launched by President Bush in July 2005. The member nations represent half the world’s population, economic output, energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) production. (See related article.)

A January meeting in Australia set the vision for the partnership, said Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky in an April 19 briefing with reporters. The two-day meeting under way at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, she says, will result in concrete steps. (See related article.)

“We see this,” she said in a telephone conference, “as the start of an intensive process that will culminate in specific action plans for the eight task forces that will cover a broad range of sectors of our economies.”

Some 300 representatives of governments and private industries from all six participating nations are attending the California meeting. Individual task forces will focus on developing better energy technologies in power generation and transmission, fossil energy, renewable energy and distributed generation, coal mining, buildings and appliances, aluminum, cement and steel.

Dobriansky said each of these groups will develop policies and practices to move its sector toward the goals of greater energy sufficiency and reduced pollution.

Speaking at the same briefing, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality James Connaughton said the groups are working to stimulate far-reaching change by linking producers and consumers of energy technologies and the government officials involved in their sectors.

The objective is “to take advantage of the best technologies we have today and the best practices we have today and find the pathways to their wider spread of their deployment on an accelerated time frame,” Connaughton said. Private-sector companies will play the leading role in making those wide-scale industrial changes, he said. One private-sector partner in the group – American Electric Power – already has committed to a $20 billion investment in cutting-edge energy technologies.

This six-nation initiative has drawn fire from advocates of the Kyoto Protocol agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a means to address climate change. More than 160 nations are party to the Kyoto Protocol and advocates say it should remain the main international instrument for goals to reverse the warming trends of climate change.

The United States is not a party to that agreement under which participating nations have made commitments on targets for reductions of GHG emissions. The Bush administration maintains that meeting the mandatory requirements of the treaty would harm the nation’s economy.

Dobriansky and Connaughton say the partnership on clean development is meant to complement the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, Connaughton said, the partnership intends to address a wider range of issues than the Kyoto Protocol.

“This partnership is focused on the central priority of each of these governments in approving their own energy security; the immediate priority the health of their citizens by cleaning up air quality and cutting harmful air pollution that has devastating effects on our populations even as we speak, and the third objective. … mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,” said Connaughton.

The Bush administration’s budget proposal for 2007 calls for more than $50 million for the partnership’s activities. Connaughton said the government’s job is to act as a catalyst to inspire the ideas and initiatives in the private sector to move toward better energy strategies.

See also, “U.S. Committed to Asia-Pacific Climate Partnership, Rice Says.

For ongoing coverage, see Climate Change.