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Economic Development and Clean Energy Are Twin Goals of Asia-Pacific Partnership

Cleaner and more efficient technologies used to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions can promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is working to prove this theory.

Work on implementing an ambitious program to reduce air pollution and to promote the development of clean energy resources by six Pacific Rim countries took an important step forward with the conclusion of a four-day meeting in Berkeley, California, this past April. At the meeting, representatives of the six member countries of the Asia-Pacific Partnership (APP) on Clean Development and Climate discussed the next steps in implementing a workplan developed in January.

The meeting focused on eight task forces (see sidebar below, "The Commerce Department's Role in the APP") formed to steer APP work. Each task force was charged with developing an action plan for implementing the goals of the organization. Those plans include several industry-specific strategies for promoting cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

A New Approach to Pollution Reduction

The APP was first announced in July 2005. In January 2006, ministers from the six member countries met in Sydney, Australia, to officially launch it. The APP is a non-binding partnership made up of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

The partnership promotes economic development while meeting the ecological and environmental challenges that accompany development. Because the member countries account for 50 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, gross domestic product, and population, this partnership can have a significant effect on the environment.

When President George W. Bush announced the APP, he called it a “new results-oriented partnership” that will “allow our nations to develop and accelerate deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to meet national pollution reduction, energy security, and climate change concerns in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development.” He named Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to lead U.S. participation.

Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change

The vision statement for the APP outlines the partnership’s principal goals:

  • To “promote and create an enabling environment for the development, diffusion, deployment, and transfer of existing and emerging cost-effective, cleaner technologies and practices”
  • To cooperate in the development of energy technologies to “promote economic growth while enabling significant reductions in greenhouse gas intensities”
  • To share “experiences in developing and implementing our national sustainable development and energy strategies”

The ministers emphasized that the APP is a complement to, not a replacement for, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the APP’s focus is on information sharing and establishing voluntary measures to improve greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits for U.S. Companies

U.S. companies can benefit from the strategies that will eventually be adopted by the APP. The companies will enjoy substantial commercial advantages in the world market for technologies that reduce energy consumption and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The adoption of environmental goals envisioned by the APP will expand the demand for those technologies.

Laura Rear, an analyst in the Manufacturing and Services unit of the International Trade Administration on a rotational assignment from the Commerce Department’s National Ocean Service, contributed to this report.

The Commerce Department’s Role in the APP

The Commerce Department plays an important role in the APP through the eight public-private sector task forces set up under the agreement. The task forces focus on the following areas: (1) cleaner fossil energy, (2) renewable energy and distributed generation, (3) steel, (4) aluminum, (5) cement, (6) coal mining, (7) power generation and transmission, and (8) buildings and appliances.

Each task force is co-chaired by two member nations. The Department of Commerce is the lead U.S. agency on the following four task forces.

Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation (co-chaired by South Korea and Australia). This task force facilitates the demonstration and deployment of renewable energy and of distributed generation technologies. It also works to identify and to remove market and policy barriers.

Power Generation and Transmission (co-chaired by China and the United States). This task force works to identify and implement best practices for power generation, transmission and distribution, and site management, such as smart metering, voltage controls, end-user energy efficiency.

Aluminum (co-chaired by Australia and the United States). This task force develops activities in six areas: measuring and benchmarking, management of perfluorocarbon emissions, recycling, energy efficiency, management of bauxite residues, and processing of high silica bauxite.

Steel (co-chaired by Japan and India). This task force identifies effective technologies that reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and develops indicators of energy efficiency and recycling. Through field tests, the task force will research plants for energy-saving purposes. It will also promote the introduction of cost-effective technologies that reduce energy consumption and protect the environment.

For more information, visit the APP’s Web site.