Bush To Request $52 Million for Asia-Pacific Energy Partnership

SYDNEY, Australia, January 13, 2006 (ENS) - President George W. Bush will request that Congress budget $52 million to promote clean energy technologies in the Asia-Pacific region and international cooperation in other energy areas, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said at an international meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

Addressing the inaugural gathering of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate (APP), Bodman said the partnership brings together government and business representatives from Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Bodman said the $52 million funding request for the in the upcoming FY 2007 budget is designed to complement the $3 billion the United States currently spends each year on clean energy projects.

“The greatest progress in addressing climate change will come through a cooperative effort that combines the best strategies of our governments with the technical know-how of the private sector,” Bodman said in his capacity as head of the U.S. delegation to the meeting.

“In order to achieve meaningful results, we must engage growing and emerging economies from the outset and encourage the implementation of technologies that have demonstrated success,” he said.

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U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Australian Minister of Industry, Resources and Tourism Ian MacFarlane at the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate (APP) inaugural meeting (Photo courtesy DOE)
Bodman said The Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate is committed to meeting energy needs and protecting the environment by "combining the ingenuity of the private sector, the efficiency of markets and the strength of the public sector."

“Fossil fuels will be the mainstay of our energy supplies well into the 21st century and as one of the world’s largest coal, gas and uranium exporters Australia can’t afford to simply turn her back on these fuel sources,” said Australian Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane.

“We do, however, have a responsibility to fully explore the potential of new and innovative emission reducing technology, such as geosequestration and clean coal technologies. That’s called progress,” the industry minister said.

On Monday, Macfarlane announced that Australia’s first carbon dioxide capture and storage demonstration project will start this year. Capture and storage, or sequestration, is seen as a partial solution to rising greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming, emissions that result from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

About half of Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions could potentially be sequestered because they are derived from stationary sources, Macfarlane said.

The meetings in Sydney this week include some 50 business leaders from energy-intensive sectors working "to develop the paths of greatest opportunity and progress," Bodman said.

Protestors are calling this week’s climate talks in Sydney "a sham," saying that the only groups invited to participate are big oil and energy companies.

“No environment advocates will be heard at the meeting. That’s why we will be on the pavement protesting instead,” said Cate Faehrmann, director of the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, a coalition of more than 120 organizations.

“Australia has invited companies including Rio Tinto, Chevron Australia, Origin Energy, Alcoa, Aluminium Council (Aust), Xstrata Coal, Hydro Tasmania, Delate Electricity, Peabody Energy Corp, Portland Cement, American Electric Power, Exxon Mobil, Aluminium Association of the United States," she said.

“The energy company representatives will address government representatives from Australia, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, India and China, who are collectively responsible for 48 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

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Secretary Bodman meets with Hua Jianmin, China's Secretary General of the State Council (Photo courtesy DOE)
“Given that only energy companies and no environmental representatives will be at the meeting, it looks more like a PR exercise for the oil and coal industry than a meaningful discussion on climate change.

“The planet is already feeling the effects of climate change. Countries like Australia, which are amongst the highest per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world need to take immediate action to avert the disastrous potential of climate change,” Faehrmann said.

“It is very unlikely that the companies who have the most to gain from selling oil and coal will be likely to take swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

Inside the conference room, Bodman cited evidence that economic development does not need to be incompatible with "responsible" care for the environment and said that improved environmental protection is one of the best indicators of growing prosperity.

Therefore, he said, one of the best ways of helping developing and emerging economies is to assist them in investing in cleaner, more efficient energy technologies.

"In order to achieve meaningful results, we must engage growing and emerging economies from the outset and encourage the implementation of technologies that have demonstrated success," Bodman said.

The success of the APP will be measured largely by the success of the investment and collaboration of private sector partners, he said.

Partner countries have established public/private task groups that focus on cleaner fossil energy, renewables, power generation and transmission, aluminum, steel, cement, buildings and appliances, and mining.

One of partnership's members, China, is projected to almost double to 15 percent by 2025 its share of world energy consumption and, consequently, increase its greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports.

That is why the United States has particular interest in encouraging China and other large emerging markets to liberalize their energy markets, improve energy efficiency, move toward cleaner technologies and develop alternative sources of energy, U.S. officials have said.