Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate: Concluding Press ConferenceAsia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate
January 12, 2006
MINISTER DOWNER: Ladies and Gentlemen I’m very pleased to be here with my colleagues from China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States to announce the conclusions of the inaugural meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
Let me say at the outset that from Australia’s perspective we believe this meeting has been extraordinarily successful. It’s a meeting of great significance that represents about half of the world’s population and half of the world’s economy. It’s a partnership that builds on the close bilateral relationships and common interests that exist already between the founding partners. We consider the inaugural gathering to be highly successful. The Ministers shared views openly and constructively during yesterday and today.
Yesterday there was a valuable ministerial business dialogue which senior industry representatives providing very useful input, and we were pleased to have the valuable insights of the Asian Development Bank’s president Mr Kuroda over the two-day period.
Today Ministers agreed a groundbreaking new model for international climate change and energy collaboration. I’m pleased to announce the establishment of eight public/private taskforces to implement our vision of accelerating clean technology deployment and sharing best practice in key sectors. The partnership approach redefines the international climate change and energy debate with three features: a practical bottom-up approach directly involving industry as equal partners with government in the taskforces, a cooperative non-coercive working environment and structure, and prioritising action that benefits both the economy and the environment.
We’re initially focusing on technologies and sectors that will have maximum impact and mutual benefit for all six partners. It will accelerate the development and deployment of clean fossil energy and renewable energy technologies. It will share best practice in power generation, building and appliance efficiency and industry sectors of aluminium, steel, mining and cement. And Australia is proud to lead taskforces on clean fossil fuels and aluminium where we can bring substantial expertise.
Ministers adopted three documents today: a charter that provides a framework and a structure, a communiqué that highlights the key outcomes from this meeting, and a work plan that maps out an intensive agenda of work for the taskforces in the near term.
The partnership will commence work immediately, this afternoon in fact each taskforce will systematically roadmap technologies and sectors and identify opportunities and concrete practical projects.
Today also the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) released a supporting analysis of the economic, environmental and energy security effects of the partnership. And those booklets I believe are available or should be available in the media packs.
While the partnership won’t set targets ABARE’s work shows that the partnership efforts in technology and best practice could lead to partners’ emissions being 30% less in 2050 than would have otherwise been the case. Dr Brian Fisher, who’s the Executive Director of ABARE, will be available to the media for any enquiries related to this analysis after the press conference is complete.
JIANG WEIXIN: [Through an interpreter]
We feel that the following four points are worthy of talking about with the media.
The third aspect is in solving climate change is technology transfer and also sufficient funds to do so. Mechanisms for funds and technical transfer, these are also important things that should be discussed. That should also be improved in the work that we’re going to do in the future. The fourth point is that the Chinese Government attaches a great deal of importance to climate change. We are now undertaking many measures to reduce environmental pollution, to reduce emissions. We are more than willing to work with our partner countries and all countries to work together to gradually reduce emissions to solve the climate problem, so we’re more than willing to do a lot in that aspect.
MINISTER DOWNER: India.
A RAJA: Accepting this partnership the journey from announcing the research statement in July 2005 to the final chapter has been fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. According to India the cross-parties work, that is the existence of the partnership, is where real challenges lie ahead. You can’t stop showing demonstrable progress in addressing the issues of clean development and climate change it is [inaudible] the mountain. I am sure the industry, business and research institutions in all the partners will come forward [inaudible] the partnership has been [inaudible] business [inaudible] at this conference.
I am optimistic that the taskforces constituted under this partnership will be able to achieve their goal in a great time frame. We also have to sustain and, if possible, enhance industry implementing partnership.
[Inaudible].. complement are an addition to the Kyoto Protocol. India believes that [inaudible] being done. To facilitate the achievements [inaudible] the Kyoto Protocol, India will be the first person to facilitate it. Let us see optimistically the products and the proofs of this partnership after a certain time and India is visualising that goal. Thank you.
MINISTER DOWNER: Thanks, Minister. And next Japan.
YURIKO KOIKE: [Through interpreter]
In the 1970s we experienced the energy crisis and we have had energy saving technologies which we have developed since that time and the business leaders talked about that. We also touched on the various endeavours that were carried out between the private and public sectors in Japan. And we believe that we can contribute and cooperate with the partnership so that the Asia Pacific region can develop sustainable development we support the communiqué and the charter.
MINISTER DOWNER: Thank you, Minister. We now turn to Korea.
LEE HEE-BEOM: Thank you. The Korean Government appreciate to your Government and His Excellency Mr Downer to host this very important meeting.
SAM BODMAN: Firstly I would like to thank and congratulate our Australian hosts for the great job they did in organising and leading this event. They did a wonderful job.
I’m very pleased to have joined my colleagues from Australia, China, India, Japan and Korea to launch this new partnership which we’re very pleased with. Through this partnership we intend to work together with the private sector, and I would underscore that, to take concrete actions to meet energy and environment needs while securing a more prosperous future for our citizens. In all of this we are very pleased to have launched this new Asia-Pacific partnership.
I can say on behalf of President Bush and Secretary Rice, who by the way regrets her inability to be here, that the United States is committed to working with the members of the APP or the AP6, I guess, as it’s become known, to advance these political goals. Along these lines I’m pleased to announce today that the President will include in his budget for the 2007 a US$52 million dollar request of Congress, that’s for one year.
Those funds are intended to supplement and help underscore and underwrite the efforts of the partnership, but it will supplement three billion dollars that our government spends annually on global climate technology and an additional two billion dollars that we spend annually on global climate science within the United States. So we – and in turn all of that, is meant to stimulate work by our private sector. We invest tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in efforts related to pollution reduction, pollution abatement, and the emission reductions.
Each of our countries, each of the countries represented here, has unique circumstances and brings different capabilities, different history, and different strengths to this partnership. And that’s really one of the strengths of this combination, I believe, is this diversity of background and abilities.
In closing let me say that I believe that the Asia Pacific partnership will not only succeed but it will serve as a model for simultaneously enhancing economic growth, promoting sustainable development, and at the same time addressing the issues, the very complex issues, related to global climate change.
Okay. You’ve got – we’ll start with you because you’ve got the microphone in your hand. Possession is nine tenths of the law.
QUESTION: I’m [inaudible], NHK TV Japan. Let me ask a question, in Japanese, sorry. My question is for the Minister of Energy, Mr Bodman, I’ll ask him in Japanese.
INTERPRETER: What do you think of the [inaudible], what type of effect will this have on, in terms of the Kyoto Protocol, and what type of effect do you want to have towards the Kyoto Protocol?
SAM BODMAN: The purpose of this is really to supplement the Kyoto Protocol. This is not a competitive endeavour; this is one that is meant to deal with concrete results. You’ll notice among the nations that are represented here, some are participants in the Kyoto Protocol; some are not. Some are developing nations that have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol but have no specific commitments.
This endeavour, the APP or AP6, is an endeavour to gather these countries together, which represent about half of the GDP of the world, represents well over half of the growth rate of the world, represents well over half of the greenhouse gas emissions of the world, to [indistinct] specifically those issues, to attack it hopefully in an effective way. And to utilise the organisations, typically corporations, who own and operate these assets.
That’s the goal, and it will be working, [inaudible] working in these task forces that will get the real work done in this endeavour.
QUESTION: Jerry [inaudible] from Reuters. My question is fairly simple. Where is the money for this? How are we going to get business involved in these PPPs and development, [inaudible] some kind of incentives? Is there likely to be more money thrown in, more tax cuts, for example, other incentives from some of the countries, or is this something for further down the track?
MINISTER DOWNER: Well, perhaps I, as the chairman, should just reflect a bit on the discussions in that context. The United States has made a, of course, it’s a one year contribution, which constitutes over a five year period $260 million dollars US. Australia’s contributing $100 million dollars; other countries will be supporting this and the partnership in different ways.
But of course you have to take into consideration also the enormous investments that have been made by the business community in cleaner energy and in addressing climate change issues. Of course the point here is that we are establishing working groups, and the working groups, as you see from the statement on the working groups, will develop their appropriate strategies.
So [inaudible] is an inaugural meeting, it wouldn’t make sense to start spraying around too much money, but I think we’ve got enough money here to make sure that the process makes real progress. And the working groups will very much guide the policy direction of the partnership in the future.
Down the front here, had your hand up right from the beginning.
QUESTION: [Inaudible] from The Sydney Morning Herald. I’d like to address my question to Japan. Japan has been quite successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and you are a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol. Do you think that these measures outlined today will cut greenhouse gas emissions by three times the cuts that are achievable under Kyoto?
YURIKO KOIKE: Regarding the Kyoto Protocol we have a commitment for the commitment period, which is minus six percent the government. And the various sectors have target achievement plans to achieve the minus six percent, and we will be implementing these plans to meet the Kyoto Protocol commitment. At the same time we should be utilising more energy saving technologies, sharing that with our partners and other countries to contribute to the global reduction of C02. Thank you.
QUESTION: [Inaudible], I represent Xinhua news agency of China. My question is for Mr Bodman. As we know, the United States is the designer of this partnership. The question is will the United States government take a new policy approach, or to take the kind of preferential treatment or policy to facilitate technology transfer under the partnership so that developing countries like China and India could benefit from [inaudible].
SAM BODMAN: This government has always had a policy of trying to reach out to other countries to make available the technology which we had developed. That’s why we participate in so many multilateral arrangements, to make available the technology which we have developed, whether it’s the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum or whether it’s GEN 4, or the Hydrogen Partnership - all of these different things are intended to share the things that we learn.
So I don’t count this as change in policy, what this is, if you will, is a harnessing of the private sector. It is recognising the fact that it is the private sector that makes the investment decisions, it is the private sector – in all of these countries, not just the US, in all of the countries it is the private sector that develops the technology, it is the private sector that gains the benefits from those investments and is in a position to share.
And what we found yesterday, which I found very encouraging, is that those representing the various industries that the Minister just mentioned, from all of the countries, were very enthusiastic and seemed to have a sense of not just that there would be some commercial business fallout from these endeavours, but if you will, that it would also help the world. It would help improve the state of both pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, and there seemed to be a real commitment to that.
The question that we have before us is are there things that the governments can do to help encourage that. And we’re still learning, and we will hear feedback from the various partners, various taskforces and we’ll go from there. But this doesn’t involve a change of policy, it involves, I think, harnessing the private sector, not just in the US, but in other countries.
QUESTION: Nigel Blunden from the Nine Television Network in Australia. Can I direct my question to the Chinese Vice Minister for National Development?
JIANG WEIXIN: [Response in Chinese]
In the past several years, particularly in the tenth five year plan, we have done a lot of treatment on the environment and also reducing emissions. We’ve done a lot of work in this particular aspect already.
So here I want to tell you that - you’ve probably all noticed the central government in China has already got a target in place, that is, in the eleventh five year period economic plan, we want to reduce the GDP unit use of energy by a considerable amount.
And we believe this target will be quite difficult to meet, but we will try our best to do so to solve China’s – the problems that the developing economy causes to the environment and to reduce emissions – not only for China, but also for the world as a whole.
QUESTION: [Inaudible] bearing in mind the [inaudible] of India, Australia and the United States, do the US and Australia have a greater responsibility compared to the responsibility borne by India to make advances under this partnership? And what is the responsibility that India has?
A RAJA: Really that’s been a very difficult [inaudible] itself, not only for India, for our [inaudible]. Our responsibility is to differentiate that. The developing condition [inaudible] in developmental activities, power generation and [inaudible] infrastructures are the main tasks for India. So we cannot [inaudible] specific responsibility [inaudible] partnership, other than the Kyoto Protocol. It has been the [inaudible] latest partnership countries and the countries to the Kyoto Protocol, but [inaudible] facilitation complements helping hands, [inaudible] countries like Australia, Canada and America, in terms of technological [inaudible] rates to reduce the emissions [inaudible] by India. That is our responsibility.
QUESTION: Matthew Franklin from The Courier Mail newspaper. Mr Downer, this is the inaugural meeting, so it’s hard, you’re just setting up the framework. When you meet again in a year and you get reports back from the working groups, what is it that you want to hear from them and how will you judge, how will we judge the success of this forum by those reports?
MINISTER DOWNER: Well we obviously want to find out from the working groups in those eight different areas, to put it very simply, just as you will want to find out what specific progress they’re making in those areas to not just facilitate access to technology but to see that technology is evolving in ways that are going to contribute to alleviating the problems of climate change.
I think in an overall sense it is very clear what we’re looking for from the working groups. What’ll interest us is how much success that they achieve over, well, probably the meeting will be a little later than January next year, but during the course of next year, how much progress they have made in that time. We don’t know the answer to that question.
But I mean we need them to address the core issues that we’re concerned about, and they’re being set up to do that. We believe two or three things about this. First of all that in the end we have the overall objective of making sure that people are able to escape from poverty.
We have the overall objective of making sure that countries have access to energy resources which they need if they’re going to continue to draw people out of poverty and ensure that there economies grow.
And thirdly, we want to see a real contribution, a real and a serious and a practical contribution made to dealing with the problem of climate change, and we believe that through these working groups in each of those areas it’s going to be possible as time goes on to reconcile those three objectives.
We don’t think, certainly from Australia’s perspective, we don’t think, that by just reducing economic growth and reducing economic activity that is compatible with the understandable aspirations for people to escape from poverty and to see their living standards rise. We don’t think those two things are compatible.
What has been impressive, and impressive for those who are sceptical who think that central planning from governments is the only way to address these issues, what is impressive is the way the private sector at yesterday’s meetings was so determined itself to make a contribution to achieving all of these things.
SAM BODMAN: If I might add to the Minister’s comment, at yesterday’s meeting the leadership of the aluminium industry – I’m an American so I keep wanting to call it aluminum – but the aluminum industry…
MINISTER DOWNER: You’re developing an…
SAM BODMAN: Well I’m working at it. But the leadership of the aluminium industry in all six countries announced a plan that’s quite specific about reducing energy usage and becoming more efficient in the way they use energy and reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases.
That I think is a very good model for what we might look to other of these taskforces to have evolved and to make some progress on, so that we have a case of a very specific undertaking that one of the taskforces has already started.
SAM BODMAN: I don’t really consider it an omission. I think we had to be careful in terms of the number of task forces, the number of countries - all the countries that might have been here are not here - so we collectively got together, the six of us, and it was, this was how the group of eight task forces was decided.
As I mentioned when I was asked yesterday – speaking for the United States - we are very comfortable with Australia, which has been a very good supplier and a very responsible supplier, supplying uranium to China and to other potential customers.
We have confidence that both the supplier and purchaser will behave under standards that have been formulated by the IAEA in Vienna, and so, we’re, you know, quite relaxed about that, as long as everyone understands the potential risks for proliferation – if evil people get a hold of this material, it could lead to bad things.
So, all I can say is that we will, if the need seems to manifest itself, I have every confidence that there will be, in the future, a nuclear task force.
MINISTER DOWNER: The only thing I would add is that of course these decisions in relation to whether individual countries go down the nuclear energy path, or whether they don’t, they’re sensitive issues that those governments and the peoples of those countries will take.
I don’t think they will in any country take – bearing in mind the sensitivity of the issue – necessarily take a great deal of comfort from the advice of others.
So, I mean, I think, as I said yesterday, you have to accept that nuclear power plants, nuclear, civil nuclear power plants are greenhouse friendly. There’s no doubt about that. There are other issues in terms of disposal of waste and reprocessing and security issues.
In Australia’s case we have somewhere between 30 and 40% of the world’s known exploitable uranium reserves, and we export that uranium according to our nuclear safeguards policies. We do not export our uranium at all to countries who don’t meet the terms of our nuclear safeguards policies.
Those policies are negotiated with each individual country. We also have an agreement with Euratom – the European Union’s Atomic Energy Agency – and at the moment we are conducting negotiations with China, and we’ll reach an agreement, or we won’t, with China, on the basis of China feeling comfortable with meeting the terms of our nuclear safeguards policy. I’m hopeful that that will be possible to do, and that negotiation is well and truly underway.
JAMES CONNAUGHTON: I just wanted to clarify a point too – there’s already extensive work underway multilaterally, on the nuclear issue - very well established institutions, very well established bilateral discussions.
And so, as you’re looking for these opportunities as we go forward, we’re really trying to build new areas of work and progress, on top of the already very successful multilateral initiatives that are underway.
MINISTER DOWNER: …no disagreement did you say?
MINISTER DOWNER: No. There was no disagreement, no.
QUESTION: Yeah, Richard…
MINISTER DOWNER: The second last question – we’ll have this one and then one more, and then I think we [break in audio].
QUESTION: Okay. Richard Black from the BBC. Mr Downer you quoted figures saying that partners emissions will be 30% less in 2050 than would have otherwise have been the case, because of what you’ve agreed here.
MINISTER DOWNER: Well, let me just put that into some perspective, because I think sometimes this perspective is lost. Under the Kyoto Protocol, during the first commitment period emissions will increase, assuming all of the countries that have committed themselves to targets meet those targets, and that seems highly improbable, but anyway - they’re certainly not heading in that direction at the moment - emissions will increase by 40% globally – 40%. And in terms of what they would have otherwise increased by, according to ABARE – the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics – they would have increased instead by 41%. So that is a weak contribution – it’s a contribution, but an increase of 40% instead of an increase of 41% is a weak contribution to dealing with the problem.
Now what ABARE have done here – so this is the same, if you like, the same source, is they’ve made this point – partnership efforts in technology and best practice could lead to partners’ emissions being 30% less in 2050 than otherwise would have been the case.
So, if you want more information, as I mentioned earlier, if you want more information – and I think a lot of people will, on ABARE’s work and their modelling, then Brian Fisher, who’s sitting over here in the audience, he’ll be available to talk to you later.
But, I think, we’re not trying to juxtapose the partnership with Kyoto, but we are making the point that this, if it is effective, could make a very substantial contribution to mitigating the greenhouse problem in the way that I have described.
QUESTION: This is a question for Mr Downer, or Mr Macfarlane – Chris Reason from Channel 7 – it’s a parochial one, but in two parts – the $100 million that Mr Howard announced today, can you give us a little more detail on where and how that’s going to be spent?
And secondly, it’s emerging the critics are starting to talk about why Australia, the smallest economy of the six presented in this forum, should be pushing $100 million into this, into the other bigger economies? Mr Downer – teachers’ unions, health unions, etcetera, are starting to say, we need the money, what are we doing with it? Wondering what your response is on those two issues.
MINISTER DOWNER: Well some of these organisations, if – I mean, I haven’t heard them say that to be fair to them; you may be making that up – but they’re…
MINISTER DOWNER: …[laughs] they’re organisations that have constantly berated the government for not doing enough about climate change and greenhouse, and now are coming out saying the government’s doing too much.
Here we have a meeting that brings together 50% of the world’s economy, and what is the meeting about – it’s about dealing with the problem of climate change.
Now, how could people who feel passionately about climate change even contemplate objecting to that?
How could they contemplate objecting to the Australian Government making a sizeable contribution, both financially and also obviously in terms of hosting the meeting?
You know, I think to a lot of these people – try not to be oppositionist; try to rise, just, you know for a few moments, just rise above that.
The second thing I’d say is that in terms of $100 million - $80 million of that – this is of course over five years, as Mr Howard made clear - $80 million of that will go towards development projects; $15 million will go into capacity building activities; and $5 million into the ongoing work of the partnership – that is, $1 million a year to help provide backup and support for the working groups.
Obviously, the United States is putting in US$52 million in its next budget. Their financing though operates on a year-by-year basis, because of the relationship between the Executive and the Congress – if I’ve got that right.
So, if you – I’m very sensitive, being a Foreign Minister, about the relationship between the Executive and the Congress in the United States, and other countries that have a presidential system - so obviously they can’t anticipate what the Congress will do further down the track, but if you extrapolate from what they’re proposing for next year, well then that comes out at around US$260 million over a five-year period, and well, it’s, I suppose, not surprising that Australia and the United States would put up money in that sort of way, up front.