Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 4 News List

`Green' activists pressing ASEAN to be proactive


Environmental groups are piling the pressure on Asian nations to do more to fight global warming ahead of a key climate conference next month, calling their pledges so far nothing but empty promises.

Leaders of 16 countries meeting in Singapore this week have agreed to increase the region's forest cover, promote the use of clean energy sources and protect marine ecosystems, draft statements show.

But activists say the declarations from ASEAN and the wider East Asia grouping including China and India do not go far enough.

"We want to see a more proactive stance from both ASEAN and the East Asia Summit," said Rafael Senga, the World Wildlife Fund's Asia-Pacific energy coordinator.

He described the drafts as "empty rhetoric," adding: "After making statements at the summits, nothing happens after that."

Athena Ballesteros, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace, singled out leaders of the 10-nation ASEAN bloc for particular scorn.

"Outrageously, if this document is any indication, ASEAN has no intention to go beyond mere rhetoric. This response is not commensurate to the scale and severity of the climate crisis," Ballesteros said.

"The declaration recognizes the severe impacts of climate change and yet the steps it is proposing fall far short of decisive action. Worse, it endorses false solutions such as nuclear power and supposedly cleaner fossil fuels," she said.

Ballesteros called the lack of substance especially troubling as ASEAN member Indonesia is hosting the UN-backed climate change conference next month in Bali.

"The very meeting that will determine the fate of the planet is taking place in ASEAN's backyard," she said.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said he hoped this week's ASEAN summit would build momentum toward Bali.

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