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APEC agrees to joint efforts
to develop renewable energy

Members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreed on Monday to establish joint efforts for the development of renewable energy in the 21 member economies.

The agreement was achieved during the first day of the three-day conference on clean, renewable and sustainable use of energy being hosted by Indonesia, this year’s APEC chair, in Nusa Dua, Bali. The agreement will be presented to the APEC senior official meeting Oct. 1 to Oct. 2 for approval.

Lead shepherd of the APEC Energy Working Group, Phyllis Genther Yoshida, said that the 21 economies had struggled to significantly lower the cost of alternative energy and to attract investment for new renewable energy projects, two main challenges they faced in green development.

“Our recommendation will be to move to a more strategic approach, in which we look at all of the different issues within a system rather than individually,” she told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the conference.

The agreed upon joint efforts will include exchange of information, joint studies and the transfer of technology in the development of renewable energy.

During the conference, members were also seeking concrete actions under the APEC framework to meet their goals of developing clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources, and cooperation to strengthen each member’s capacity.

In a meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2011, APEC leaders pledged to reach a target to cut the region’s energy intensity by at least 45 percent by 2035 through a wide array of steps.

Energy intensity is a widely used indicator to measure energy efficiency, calculated by dividing a country’s demand for energy by its gross domestic product (GDP).

A joint report issued by the Asia Pacific Energy Research Center and the working group earlier this year suggested that APEC economies, which represent around 60 percent of global energy demand, would potentially attain the target just by carrying on “business as usual”. However, it also noted that achieving environmental sustainability across the region required a lot more work.

The report, which estimated future APEC energy demand and supply as well as greenhouse gas emissions, also showed that primary energy consumption was expected to surge by 53 percent.

Without reduction in energy intensity, the demand will likely expand at the same rate as APEC GDP, which is estimated to rise by an astonishing 225 percent by 2035.

 The report also highlighted that more than 80 percent of the region’s energy demand in 2035 would be sourced from fossil fuels, thereby causing a notable 46 percent rise in carbon dioxide emissions from fuel.

Despite the gloomy outlook, the member economies are making considerable attempts to cope with the situation, and the working group earlier estimated that APEC nations’ energy efficiency over the past three decades would continue to rise gradually and bring a 53 percent jump in efficiency by 2035.

 Arto Suryodipuro, the Foreign Ministry’s director for Asia Pacific and Africa intra-region cooperation, said that the use of clean and renewable energy would allow economies to prosper. He also said that the increased energy demand in Indonesia of 7 percent per year, mostly met by fossil fuels, hampered economic growth, as the country greatly depended on imports.

“Renewable energy should be the driver of our development in the future,” he said.

A similar situation was experienced by Thailand, which is now phasing out subsidies on cooking gas and shifting those funds to other sectors, such as investment in rail-based transportation.

Thailand has rolled out a comprehensive package to spur investment in the renewable energy sector, particularly through a feed-in tariff and a tax holiday, according to the deputy director general of Thailand’s Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Department Twarath Sutabutr.

The incentives allow Thailand, which is ranked third among ASEAN countries in technical potential for renewable energy, to become one of the most advanced countries in terms of renewable energy investment in the region.

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