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Nations to agree on energy security

india Updated: Jan 13, 2007 11:25 IST
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Leaders of 16 nations from South Korea to Singapore are expected to agree to boost Asia's energy efficiency and combat climate change by seeking new fuel sources, particularly biofuels, according to a draft document seen on Saturday.

The Cebu Goals on East Asian Energy Security is to be signed on Monday by the heads of government at the East Asia Summit, which brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their six dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The plan aims to help countries reduce their dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency programmes, expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production and utilization, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press.

The accord does not say what types of biofuels might be emphasised and does not give specific details of the kinds of energy efficiency programmes being considered.

But some ASEAN countries such as Malaysia have started working to commercially produce alternative fuels such as biodiesel, comprising mainly palm oil, and ethanol made from the sap of nipah trees.

Using such renewable raw materials to produce fuels is aimed at reducing the world's dependence on dwindling stores of fossil fuels such as crude oil and coal. Biofuels also produce lower amounts of harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming compared to traditional fuel sources.

Minimising greenhouse gas emissions and investing in infrastructure - such as a regional electricity grid and a natural gas pipeline spanning Southeast Asia - to ensure stable energy supplies are among the draft agreement's other goals.

The blueprint provides no timeframe for these goals, which underscore increasing efforts by ASEAN in recent years to enhance energy cooperation and alleviate the impact of high oil prices.

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - in a statement expected to be issued at the end of ASEAN's annual summit over the weekend ahead of the wider East Asian conclave - says ASEAN wants to work with neighboring countries to explore alternative energy resources and sustain financial growth.

Government leaders have "noted with concern the prolonged rise in oil prices and the difficulties (posed) to the economic growth and development of ASEAN member countries and the region," said a draft of Arroyo's statement.

The energy security agreement also encourages countries to explore possible modes of fuel stockpiling through regional arrangements, and urges oil-rich nations to channel petroleum profits toward equity investments and low-interest loan facilities for other developing countries.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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