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APEC members chart routes to greener transport

By Mao Lei, Wang Jun (Xinhua)

10:09, September 15, 2011

SAN FRANCSICO, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Highest-level transportation and energy officials from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies held new rounds of meetings in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking to further mobilize technologies, tools and policies to drive the region to a greener transport future.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

In their opening remarks at the first ever joint APEC Transportation and Energy Ministerial Conference on Tuesday, U.S. officials hosting the event highlighted the critical role a low- energy, low-carbon transport plays in stimulating economic growth while at the same time reducing the environmental footprint, or the concept of green growth.

Promoting green growth is expected to be one of the priorities of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Honolulu in November, which will also focus on further promoting regional economic integration, as well as encouraging regional cooperation and convergence.

"Transport consumes about 19 percent of the world energy supply and produces about 23 percent of the carbon emissions," said Steven Chu, U.S. secretary of energy.

"I would say transportation and energy as well as the environmental issues surrounding it are really in many cases at the core of the problems and challenges of this energy and climate situation we find ourselves in," he said.

Chu's words were echoed by co-host Ray LaHood, U.S. secretary of transportation.

"For the United States, the possibilities for progress are greater in the transportation sector, which accounts for two- thirds of our oil use and contributes one-third of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions," noted LaHood.

"That means we in transportation have the obligation and the opportunity to take action, to change both the types and the amounts of energy that America's transportation systems use while creating good, high paying jobs," he added.

In his welcome remarks, California Governor Jerry Brown called climate change and mass unemployment "twin challenges" the Pacific Rim economies are facing, believing that boosting investment in green technologies is the right way to tackle the multiple crises.

"It's time for a war on unemployment, find the jobs, and do so by investing in the renewable energy, the efficiency technologies, the innovative transportation, the land use policies," he said.

"We can curb climate change, and to the extent we don't curb it, we have to adapt to it, and in all of that, we can make investments in renewable energy and the technologies that will drive our economy and our communities forward," said the governor, whose state would be the fourth largest economy in the APEC region if it is a nation.

A CLEAR BLUEPRINT

During the joint ministerial conference, government officials exchanged ideas with representatives from the private and NGO sectors in a series of roundtable dialogues with the aim that LaHood summarized as "a clear blueprint for action."

APEC economies are making good progress toward the goal of reducing energy use in economic activities by at least 25 percent by 2030, the ministers noted, while admitting that there are still areas need further improvements.

The ministers directed their working groups to study ways to make transportation systems more energy-efficient, according to a press release issued after the conference.

Actions called for by the ministers include the developing of energy-efficient transportation systems for livable, low-carbon communities, which are believed to have the potential to reducing energy use, carbon emissions and travel times.

In addition, they called for the promotion of biofuels, natural gas vehicles and electric vehicles to reduce the use of oil in transportation, stressing the need to maintain consumer confidence in electric vehicles by taking precautionary steps to ensure their safety.

Citing the fact that freight transportation accounts for a substantial share of energy use in the APEC region, the ministers said that the working groups would also develop strategies and best practices for improving energy efficiency in the movement of freight.

The joint ministerial conference was followed on Wednesday by the 7th APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting, during which transportation ministers from the region further discussed promoting green growth and innovation in transportation.

Speaking at the meeting, Li Shenglin, minister of transport of China, shared with the delegates about China's green transport development strategy.

China is making efforts to improve regulatory framework for the development of green transport, move forward the integrated transport system, and implement the strategy of putting the development of public transport first, Li said.

The country is also working to strengthen the application of science and technology and information technology in the development of green transport, he added.

Technology plays an important role in promoting green transport and APEC economies should carry out more exchanges in this field, the minister told reporters on the sideline of the meeting.

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