The line forms on the left as heads of state and other high-ranking government officials announce pledges and ambitious plans aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the build-up to the United Nations Climate Conference to be held in Bali December 3-14.
Saudi Arabia pledged US$300 million and the neighboring Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates US$150 million each to establish the OPEC Environmental Fund last week at the closing of the Third OPEC Summit in Riyadh.
The environment, sustainable development and oil supply stabilization were the three themes addressed during the week long summit attended by energy and finance ministers and heads of state from OPEC’s 13 members, which ended with the signing and issuance of the Riyadh Declaration.
Meanwhile, carbon, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in the context of development and economic growth were also prominent themes at the third East Asia Summit in Singapore which concluded today.
Laying out the Roadmap to Bali
OPEC had its own triple-‚ÄòP’ slogan encapsulating the summit’s themes: “Providing Petroleum, Promoting Prosperity, Protecting the Planet”. This and other environmental sloganeering is the latest indication that the same “integrated bottom line” that forms the conceptual and thematic underpinning for the Triple Pundit site are increasingly being embraced by government, international organizations, industry and the business community in countries around the world.
The entwined issues of energy resource, economic development, environmental degradation and climate change were prominent during the OPEC 3 Summit. Attending the conference was United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive direct Yvo de Boer, who addressed summit attendees while the UNFCC International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was convening in Valencia, Spain to finalize its latest Fourth Assessment Report on climate change, which was released Nov. 17.
Panelists from the UN and other international organizations and think tanks gathered along with delegates and support teams from OPEC’s 13 member nations to address the summit’s three themes. A consensus emerged acknowledging that oil, natural gas and coal were going to make up an increasingly large share of energy supply worldwide – as much as 80%– at least through the middle of this century given forecasts of rapidly growing energy demand and the long lead times associated with developing the technology and establishing the supply chains required to make a transition to alternative energy sources that could support a world population approaching 7 billion.
This being the case OPEC as well as energy experts and the UNFCCC’s de Boer agreed that significant resources should be devoted to finding ways of reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and burning of fossil fuels.
De Boer noted that the IPCC has singled out carbon capture and storage as the single most promising means of doing so. The problem is that no such system exists yet and the concept is untried and unproven on any scale whatsoever. One former OPEC chairman addressing summit attendees said that OPEC might make the first step towards funding and assembling a group of partners from developed, developing oil exporting and oil importing nations to establish an international financing mechanism to develop and test carbon capture and storage systems.
Addressing delegates and the media at the East Asia Summit, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that climate change is “ultimately a development issue. We should pursue economic growth, social development and environmental protection in a coordinated and balanced way, and develop models of production and consumption compatible with sustainable development,” he was reported as saying. China has set a target of reducing the energy intensity of GDP by 20% from its 2005 level by 2010 and capping industrial nitrous oxide emissions at the same base year’s respective reference level.
China, meanwhile, showed a fine sense of the workings of capitalism when it announced that it will take what seems like a very practical and effective market-based step to combat pollution by barring companies that violate environmental regulations from raising capital on the country’s booming stock exchanges.
A related development, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda meanwhile broke the news broke that Japan would establish a US$2 billion aid package to assist Asian countries– China and India in particular– to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Heads of state from Southeast Asian countries including Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea for a summit finale signed the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment.