Asian leaders sign energy pact

Summit looks to boost energy security and cut pollution but does not set targets.

    The Asian group includes some of the
    planet’s biggest polluters [GALLO/GETTY)

    Together the 16 countries account for half the world's population and a fifth of global trade.

    The group also includes some of the planet’s biggest polluters.

    The energy pact, signed on Monday, calls for increased investments in cleaner and renewable energy sources as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    The declaration calls on nations to "explore possible modes of strategic fuel stockpiling" including "multi-country and or regional voluntary and commercial arrangements".

    The pact encourages investment in alternatives
    to imported oil [GALLO/GETTY]

    It also encourages investment in biofuels such as ethanol and developing a regional standard on such fuels to reduce the region’s dependence on conventional fuels, particularly imported oil.

    The pact also calls on signatory countries with their own oil reserves to channel petroleum profits towards equity investments and low-interest loan facilities for other developing countries.

    However, unlike recent proposals in the European Union, the pact does not give specific targets for pollution reductions.

    Last week EU leaders unveiled ambitious energy proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent.

    Protesters disperesed

    Also on Monday, Philippine riot police dispersed about 300 protesters, injuring at least 16 activists, police and organisers said.

    The activists shouted anti-US chants and burned an American flag as police with shields and sticks moved in, organisers said.

    About 100 police officers pushed back the protesters with fibreglass shields and hit some of them with wooden truncheons.

    Nuclear stalemate

    Among other issues up for discussion at the Cebu summit is North Korea's nuclear programme, with China’s leader calling for renewed efforts to resolve the stalemate.

    Speaking before Monday’s meeting, Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said the six nations involved in talks on the issue needed to overcome differences to persuade North Korea to disarm.

    "Although the six-party talks have met with difficulties, as long as each side works hard we can overcome the barriers and achieve the final target," he said.

    The last round of six-party talks, bringing together China, Japan, Russia, the US as well as North and South Korea, broke down in late December without any breakthrough or date for the next meeting.

    A key sticking point has been North Korea's demand that the US lift financial sanctions imposed in response to the North’s alleged counterfeiting of $100 bills and money laundering.

    On Sunday, Wen met with Shinzo Abe, his Japanese counterpart and Roh Moo-hyun, the South Korean president, in the first summit between the three leaders in more than two years.

    In a statement released after the meeting, the leaders pledged their commitment to a "peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiation".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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