Honourable Ministers, Excellencies,
Chair, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the APEC Secretariat, I wish to thank our hosts, the Government of Russia and people of St. Petersburg for hosting this ministerial meeting and for the hospitality extended to all of the participants. The excellent arrangements that have been put in place for this meeting in St. Petersburg – and for the many others that are taking place throughout the year – speaks to Russia’s strong commitment to APEC as a whole and to the generosity of the Russian people.
Since the first APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in 1996 in Sydney, Australia, our members have recognized the critical importance of energy for the long-term development of our economies and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
At the subsequent ministerial meetings that were held throughout several APEC economies from 1996 to 2010, Ministers continued to set policy directions for members to enhance energy security, improve energy efficiency, and address climate change.
Since the last APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in Fukui, Japan in 2010, members have made significant progress towards their common objective by increasing the number low-carbon projects, extending Peer Review on Energy Efficiency assessments, and further implementing the Energy Security Initiative.
These efforts were reinforced by our Leaders in Honolulu last November where they stated that they would take steps to promote green growth including by rationalizing and phasing out inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies. Significantly, our Leaders also set higher targets for the APEC-wide goal of reducing energy intensity levels, from a 25% reduction by 2030 that was agreed in 2007 to a 45% reduction by 2035 decided last year.
Here today, under the stewardship of Russia, I look forward to the directions that Ministers will set to help all economies move closer towards achieving APEC’s shared energy and environmental goals, which our Leaders have laid out. This will, no doubt, be built upon our past achievements.
This morning, APEC Ministers meet under the theme – Energy Security: Challenges and Strategic Choices to further APEC’s efforts to enhance regional energy security and to realize sustainable and secure growth in the context of the 2010 APEC Leaders’ Growth Strategy.
We meet at a time when oil prices continue to fluctuate. While the figures have dipped in recent weeks, the APEC Policy Support Unit’s latest Economic Trends Analysis found that a sustained 20% increase in oil prices could potentially decrease global growth by 1.5 percentage points.
The unstable price of oil coupled with the occurrence of natural disasters and increasing greenhouse gas emissions have highlighted how critical the issues of energy security and energy efficiency are to economic prosperity and environmental sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Considering that APEC members together account for 60 percent of global energy demand, and include four of the world’s largest energy consumers, it is critical that our 21 member economies together make real progress on the key issues of energy security and set a renewed agenda going forward.
Enhancing energy security requires concerted action in many areas and on many levels. APEC has been making good progress on this. For example, the important work of the APEC Energy Working Group (EWG) advances our energy goals and puts into practical action the policy directions set by Ministers and our Leaders.
Programs such as the APEC Energy Security Initiative has helped prepare our region for potential energy supply disruptions through numerous joint exercises on oil data gathering, natural gas trade, and oil supply emergency responses. This is done in collaboration with multilateral organizations, including the International Energy Agency (IEA) who are our guests here today.
The APEC Energy Smart Communities Initiative is also continuing to support the development of more energy efficient, sustainable and lower-carbon communities. APEC economies are sharing knowledge and learning about the latest environmental technologies and energy-saving methods.
In addition, the APEC Peer Review Mechanism on Energy Efficiency is helping economies undertake policy reforms to achieve their environmental goals. The resulting reports have no doubt helped identify and share best practices and ultimately contributed to improving energy efficiency overall.
With other key projects spearheaded by the Energy Working Group and its sub-fora, including in the areas of biofuel development, carbon capture and storage, unconventional gas resources, and nuclear energy research, APEC is taking great strides towards greater energy security and environmental sustainability.
Excellencies, energy security will continue to play a pivotal role in the sustainable growth of the APEC region. I look forward to the directions that Ministers will set at this meeting and to the continued implementation of a visionary and yet practical energy agenda. Together we can make APEC an even more dynamic and prosperous region now and for future generations.