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Leaders to push greater energy cooperation

The ASEAN along with India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will discuss reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2007 14:09 IST

Asian countries will hold a summit to discuss a common energy policy, according to the draft of a final statement to be issued by leaders at a regional meeting in the Philippines.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand will discuss reducing their dependence on fossil fuels at the proposed summit, a copy of the statement obtained on Friday by the agency showed.

The 16 leaders are set to meet on the central Philippine island of Cebu on January 15, when they will also issue a separate declaration on energy security, calling for joint energy exploration and production, the draft showed.

Other measures proposed include investments in ethanol and biodiesel plants and the adoption of standards for biofuels.

The Philippines, which holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, is anxious to put energy at the top of the summit's agenda as it strives to reduce its reliance on imported oil and boost biofuel production, using local crops such as sugar and coconut.

The Southeast Asian country, which is the world's biggest exporter of coconut oil, had wanted East Asian countries to adopt a uniform 10-20 percent biofuel blend on their fuel by 2015 but most members were cool to the idea, a government official said.

The European Union, which ASEAN would like to emulate, proposed a bold new energy policy this week that included ambitious new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Brussels called on other countries to match its proposal but the draft of ASEAN's final statement made no specific mention of climate change.

The 16 countries will discuss the possibility of a regional fuel stockpile but even with world oil prices down as much as $9 since the start of the year on weak winter fuel demand, the idea is not expected to take off among poorer Asian nations.

Tokyo and Seoul are already required to hold reserves as members of the International Energy Agency.

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

First Published: Jan 12, 2007 14:09 IST