Strengthening energy security, including improving energy efficiency and development of cleaner energy supplies, is crucial to economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, APEC Secretariat Executive Director Muhamad Noor said today.

Ambassador Noor said energy security has long been an important issue for APEC and the region, but recent events including a spike in global oil prices and the Japan earthquake and tsunami emphasised the need for ongoing work and cooperation. 

“These events have highlighted how critical the issues of energy security are to economic prosperity and sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region,” he told a high-level panel on energy security at the UN-ESCAP’s 67th session underway in Bangkok.

APEC member economies together account for 60 percent of the global energy demand and include the world’s four largest energy consumers. Global energy demand will increase by 36 percent between 2008 and 2035, according to the International Energy Agency, to meet the needs of an increasing population and economic growth.

“The solutions to these challenges are not simple or easy. But APEC is committed to tackling them,” he said.

Ambassador Noor pointed to the extensive and ongoing work of APEC’s Energy Working Group, including its capacity building activities, particularly in developing economies, which focus on sharing knowledge, expertise and technical skills on strengthening energy security.

These activities include promoting energy efficient policies and development of renewable energy technologies in the region, both of which will boost energy security, grow economies and lower greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say cause climate change.

One activity currently under way is the APEC Low-Carbon Model Town Project on the outskirts of Tianjin in northeastern China. The town is being transformed using low-carbon and energy efficient technologies including smart buildings, transport and grids.

Ambassador Noor’s comments at the dialogue follow a commitment from APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade on the weekend to explore new ways to promote greater liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services by the end of the year.

Meeting in Big Sky, Montana, Ministers also discussed ways to advance trade in green vehicles and technologies. They agreed to find ways to streamline procedures and regulations on importing advanced and alternative-fueled demonstration vehicles.

Trade Ministers also instructed officials to develop a work plan to advance APEC’s commitment to phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, including through capacity building activities in the region and a voluntary reporting mechanism.

The full speech can be found here.

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