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Wed, Jun 27, 2007 - Page 10 News List

ADB planning to ramp up clean energy program

THINKING AHEAD With 70 percent of Asia's energy derived from fossil fuels, alternative sources are essential, the head of the development bank said

AFP , MANILA

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday it was planning to boost its clean energy program to US$1 billion annually amid warnings Asia's contribution to green gas emissions could get worse.

ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said the region faced a "daunting challenge in securing energy" and expanding economies needed to spend more on clean energy technologies.

"About 70 percent of Asia's energy needs are dependent on fossil fuels -- a primary source of greenhouse gases. Asia now accounts for one-quarter of the world's gas emissions," Kuroda told a regional clean energy forum.

"Without a change in course, it will get worse," he said, adding that the International Energy Agency estimates the region would have to invest up to US$5 trillion through 2030 on new energy infrastructure.

Coal power

A major chunk of the investments would likely go toward coal-fired power plants to produce electricity, leading to global carbon dioxide emissions of over 40 billion tonnes in the next 23 years, he said.

Of the total emissions, 40 percent would be coming from Asia, Kuroda said, adding that this would also lead to a increase in global mean temperatures.

"Given this potential impact, issues surrounding energy security and sustainable development are central to Asia's future, and to the world's," Kuroda said.

He said developing countries should be encouraged to "explore possibilities for renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and bio-fuels."

They should also explore trade schemes or taxes on emissions to fund cleaner energy investment, he said.

`Catalytic role'

The ADB, he said, is positioned to play a "catalytic role" to move forward the region's clean energy program.

The development bank intends to "increase our clean energy program to US$1 billion a year," Kuroda said.

Other ADB officials said the figure could go higher and other donor countries have already expressed putting more money to the fund.

"We believe that in order to increase the utilization of clean energy in our developing member countries, we need to facilitate wider deployment of clean energy technologies," Kuroda said.

This would mean raising awareness on alternative energies, as well as putting the right policy and "regulatory incentives to encourage their use and putting together the right to share the risks and to bring down the costs."

The ADB said last month it planned to invest US$900 million in clean energy projects this year and slightly more in the following two years. Priority countries would be China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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