On June 19, APEC Energy Ministers attended the ninth Energy Ministerial Meeting (EMM9) in Fukui, Fukui Prefecture. The Japan Journal’s Hitoshi Chiba asked Yota Ono, director of the International Affairs Division of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, about the discussions and achievements that came out of EMM9.
The EMM9 chair, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima, mentioned “energy security” in his opening remarks. How was this issue discussed at EMM9?
With respect to “energy security,” emergency responses such as in the event of disruptions to the supply of oil were mainly discussed. The world’s major energy-consuming nations have been shifting from developed nations to the Asia-Pacific region, including India, China and ASEAN nations. At present, however, activities on the oil stockpiling initiatives among the twenty-one APEC economies are limited. In light of these circumstances, at EMM9, there were discussions that APEC should improve the capacity for emergency response in cooperation with the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has experiences and knowhow about the stockpiling. As a result, the IEA suggested emergency response training, including the development of emergency response scenarios based on the identification of possible crises. It was decided that all of the APEC economies would participate in such activities. This is considered a major step forward for energy security in the region.
What about energy conservation measures?
An APEC program that advances energy conservation measures in a concrete fashion is already underway. I am referring to the APEC Peer Review on Energy Efficiency (PREE) program, which was proposed by Japan and adopted by APEC in 2007. Put simply, this is an activity where the state of implementation of policies to improve energy efficiency in APEC economies is evaluated by the energy conservation policy experts of other APEC economies, and suggestions for improvements made. New Zealand, Chile, Vietnam and Thailand have joined the program since 2009, with use by Taiwan, Peru and Malaysia decided on for 2010 onwards. In a recap of the program at EMM9, it was reported to have yielded significant results, with calls for the program’s continuance. At the same time, expansion of the program to encompass elements such as capacity building for the economies in the program was also requested.
The potentiality of the considerable rise of coal fuel use due to the high economic growth of the region, is behind APEC’s tackling of improvements to energy efficiency. While the worldwide dependency on coal is around a quarter of total energy consumption, it accounts for a third of consumption in the APEC region. The dependency on coal fuel is higher than in other regions so that immediately reducing dependency on coal in the region is not a realistic task from the viewpoint of energy demand and supply. Given this, Japan has made proposals to promote the clean use of coal fuel, including activities to have each economy in the region utilize the high-efficiency coal-fired power plant construction technologies.
What kind of discussions took place on the point of CO2 reductions?
Promoting the introduction of low emission energy solutions such as renewable energy that does produce CO2 emissions, nuclear power generation and carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology to store CO2 in the ground, was discussed at the meeting, and it was agreed that on a voluntary basis each country would develop a target-based action plan modeled after the system for the successful PREE model mentioned earlier.
The point to stress is that in reducing CO2 emissions, there was a shared recognition of the importance for each economy to publicly establish targets and evaluate them. This latest agreement is significant input for the agenda on climate change in APEC.
Were there any other Japanese proposals tied to the future?
As a symbolic project of measures to reduce CO2 emissions, Minister Naoshima proposed the APEC Low-Carbon Model Town Project. While new towns are being created one after the other in emerging and developing nations, this proposal aims to promote a shift to low-carbon emission in the urbanization process. This is something which expands Japan’s success with low-carbon projects in urban areas of APEC economies, while at the same time providing Japan’s advanced environmental technologies and sharing Japan’s experience in the field. There are plans to quickly launch a task force to undertake a detailed study to select around twenty model towns over the next three to four years.
As APEC chair, Japan will continue to actively propose projects in the future and take the initiative in proceeding with contributions to energy issues. The results of discussions and agreements from EMM9 will mean a great deal to Japan as well as participating economies, and by extension, to the world.
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