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G8 plus three agree to promote energy efficiency

The Group of Eight developed member nations and China, India, South Korea agreed on Sunday to step up efforts for energy efficiency so as to lower global market demands and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy ministers from the G8 and the three Asian countries, which were invited to take part in broader discussion over energy-related issues, jointly issued a declaration on concluding their meeting in northeastern Japan's energy capital of Aomori, announcing the establishment of the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, a new framework aimed at facilitating energy-saving measures and transfer of related technologies.

The ministers believed that energy saving and efficiency is one of the quickest, greenest, and most cost-effective way to address energy security, climate change, and ensuring economic growth, according to the declaration.

Under the new framework, which provide a forum while setting no goals for the participants, the G8 plus three nations and potential participants will enhance cooperation and exchange information on environment-friendly technologies for united efforts over cut in oil demands and emissions.

From this point of consideration, energy efficiency is in the common interests of both developed and developing nations, the ministers said.

During discussion for the final version of the document, developing countries including China strongly called on rich nations to facilitate the transfer of environment-friendly technologies and help developing countries reform their traditional way of production.

"Blocks remain high for developing countries to have access to the updated technologies they long for," said Zhang Guobao, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari described the issues of climate change and energy as two sides of the same coin and proposed united solutions.

"We believe that addressing energy security, climate change and economic growth can be achieved in a mutually conducive manner," said a statement.
The ministers said promotion of energy efficiency both in supply and demand chain is a necessary prerequisite for enhancing energy security and mitigation of climate change while supporting economic growth in a cost-effective manner. They agree to work together on green and renewable energy, innovative energy technologies and the development of nuclear energy.

In addition to energy efficiency, high oil prices also dominated agenda of the one-day meeting.

In his opening address, host minister Amari said the current unprecedented and abnormally high oil prices could lead to a recession of the world economy if no action were taken.

As all the ministers agreed that the current level of oil prices are out of normal range and shared serious concern over it, their explanation for reasons behind it diversified.

While the United States insisted that the current record high level of oil prices was a mere result of unbalanced demands and supply, caused somewhat by rising countries' mounting energy needs, China's Zhang pointed out that speculation on the international oil trade market was one of the major reasons behind the abnormal price, which doubled in the past 18 months.

"If we fail to grasp the sticking point, we can never effectively bring the oil price back into normal," Zhang said at a joint news conference held following the meeting.

The United States and some leading economies have been calling on producing countries to expand output and urging developing countries such as China and India to cut subsidies on petroleum products.

"All countries take energy subsidy measures at different development stages, and China's control of oil price is necessary to keep social and political stabilities," said Zhang, who is also director-general of China's newly-established energy department.

"For instance, rocketing energy cost may lead to agricultural problems, and such problems in China may pose danger to the world," Zhang added.

Organizers said that discussions at the meeting will be reflected on the upcoming G8 summit, whose major topics include energy and climate change.

The G8, which groups France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia, Japan, and the United States, together with China, South Korea and India, consume over 50% of world energy and are accountable for the same proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. (Xinhua)