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Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 10 News List

APEC to discuss threat posed by climate change


APEC finance ministers will discuss how the Asia-Pacific region can deal with climate change while also meeting ever-expanding energy needs at a gathering in Australia beginning today.

Finance ministers from the 21 countries of APEC will hold a two-day meeting in the Queensland resort town of Coolum to make policy recommendations ahead of an APEC leaders' summit in Sydney in September.

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, who is hosting the event, said the most important challenge facing the meeting was finding a model acceptable to all that would allow the region to deal with climate change.

"We [APEC] have the world's biggest emitters -- China and the United States. To have that discussion with them and to see if we can get an agreement on principles for managing carbon emissions and cooperation across the world's major economies would be a really good step forward," he said.

He said that another major topic would be energy security, asking: "How do developing countries such as China secure the energy which they'll need to drive their growth forward in the decades that lie ahead?"

An Australian Treasury briefing on the Coolum meeting said the agenda would include discussion on how the region could meet critical energy infrastructure needs estimated at US$7 trillion over the next 30 years.

"If this investment does not occur, the resulting imbalance between energy demand and supply is likely to result in higher and more volatile energy prices," it said.

"Compared to other APEC finance ministers' meetings, this is an extremely high level of ministerial involvement, and I think it will be a very significant meeting," Costello said.

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