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  Today Online 10 Sep 07
Climate change statement 'a very significant step forward'
Val Chua in Sydney

Straits Times 10 Sep 07
PM Lee hails Apec statement on climate
Although goals are non-binding, he says consensus among members 'significant'
By Peh Shing Huei

Channel NewsAsia
9 Sep 07

PM Lee hopes ASEAN Summit will also endorse climate change stand

Straits Times 9 Sep 07
Climate change to be key item at Asean meet
PM Lee pledges to keep the momentum going in November summits
By Peh Shing Huei

SYDNEY - CLIMATE change will be a key item on the agenda when Asian leaders meet in Singapore in November, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

As host of the Asean and East Asia Summits, Singapore pledged to keep the environmental momentum going - from Sydney, through Singapore to Bali.

In Sydney yesterday, Apec leaders signed a declaration, urging action to curb global warming. In December, a United Nations convention will meet in Bali to find a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto agreement runs out in 2012. The summits in Singapore in November will serve as a 'useful lead-up' to Bali, Mr Lee said at a retreat with other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders.

Mr Lee, who also called for a successful conclusion of the Doha free trade talks, labelled climate change the 'biggest longterm challenge confronting mankind'.

He acknowledged that Singapore has a vested interest in pushing for action. 'We are low lying, and if sea levels rise, we may be under water!' he said.

While there are no 'silver bullets' to solve the problem, he suggested three ways to cut carbon emissions responsible for global warming.

First, forests should be protected to act as a buffer against climate change. Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, he noted, are working with Indonesia on forest management in Sumatra.

Second, there has to be a greater shift to clean energy, even though it cannot entirely replace fossil fuels.

Third, use less energy in economic activities.

Mr Lee acknowledged that no country will agree to sacrifice economic growth for global warming reduction.

It is therefore important, he said, to 'do more with less' by conserving energy and improving efficiency. This can be achieved through research, technology, economic incentives like carbon taxes and by setting goals.

The Apec declaration on climate change is aspirational in nature and 'will not be the last word', he stressed.

Mr Lee added that while it is difficult to arrive at a long-term global target, all countries - developed and developing - must work towards it within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

'Ultimately, all countries have to come together to resolve these issues. Collectively we share the problem, and must solve it together,' he said.

A model of success, he said, is the Montreal Protocol to tackle the ozone problem. Collective action made a difference and the ozone hole over the Antarctic is slowly recovering.

He said: 'Every nation will have to do its part. Then mankind can avoid destabilising the global climate, and undermining the stable environment that we all depend on. Then our countries can grow and prosper in peace, and our children can inherit a clean and beautiful earth.'

Channel NewsAsia 9 Sep 07
PM Lee hopes ASEAN Summit will also endorse climate change stand

SYDNEY, Australia: The APEC meeting in Sydney drew to a close with leaders from the 21 economies endorsing the Sydney Declaration to tackle climate change.

Wrapping up his visit to Australia, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes there will be another clear statement on environmental concerns at the upcoming ASEAN and East Asia Summits in Singapore.

Asia Pacific leaders have agreed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen research into renewable energy and protect forest areas.

While observers said the Sydney Declaration on climate change lacks commitment due to its non-binding nature, PM Lee said it is not a meaningless exercise.

The Declaration will help show the way forward and the issue will be discussed again at the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in Singapore, and a United Nations climate convention in Bali in December.

Mr Lee said: "Doesn't mean that everything will be settled by the ASEAN meeting, or even in Bali. There's no deal but the pressure of international opinion, as well as domestic opinion, has caused America to change its position... and John Howard to change his position. I think the Chinese have also evolved their position as the situation unfolded and the implications are clearer. If everybody does their part, and the cost in terms of growth development is something which is wearable, then I think it can be done."

Within ASEAN, Mr Lee said there is political intention to tackle environmental issues, but the process of doing it remains a challenge as each member country faces a different set of concerns on climate change and have different developmental goals.

Singapore, for instance, needs to curb carbon emissions as a result of power generation, while deforestation and land use change are the main issues for Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Mr Lee said Singapore would learn from other countries in addressing climate change and cited Japan as a good example.

But all the major players like the United States, Europe, China and India need to be involved to drive the agenda forward.

"If we shut down everything (in Singapore), resulting in zero emissions, the amount that we will save is equal to the increase in emissions in China as a result of economic growth over a period of three weeks. It's not something that we can do by ourselves," said Mr Lee.

Mr Lee added there has been interest in Singapore's environment experience shown by the number of water purification projects in the region and the proposed eco-city development with China. - CNA/so

Today Online 10 Sep 07
Climate change statement 'a very significant step forward'
Val Chua in Sydney

Environmental activists have criticised it as a "watered-down" plan with non-binding vague goals, but the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders behind the highly-anticipated Sydney Declaration on climate change have defended their work.

It is the first such agreement involving major polluters the United States, China and Russia, pointed out Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"It's a proper recognition that different economies have different needs, and that a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach is simply not going to work," he said at a press conference yesterday.

The climate change deal, which took centre stage at the weekend summit, has set out Apec's "aspirational" goal of a reduction in "energy intensity" the amount of energy needed to produce a dollar of gross domestic product by at least 25 per cent by 2030.

Unlike the contentious 1997 United Nations-backed Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012 it does not set targets on greenhouse gas emissions, and its goals are voluntary.

But unlike the Kyoto agreement, in which developing countries are exempted, China has aligned with Apec's goals, largely seen as setting the scene for a post-Kyoto blueprint.

Dismissing criticisms of the declaration, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the Republic's media: "Yes, there are compromises which have gone into the statement, because different countries sought to protect their position, but it's (still) a very significant step forward."

Noting that global warming would not even have made it into the Apec agenda two or three years ago, Mr Lee said the pressures of international and domestic opinion have caused countries to change their positions.

"I think the Chinese have also evolved their position as the situation has unfolded and the implications are clearer. They don't say any more: 'I deny this, this is not my problem'. They say: 'I hold you to your commitment, and I will do my part'," he said.

But no country will say it will do away with "3, 4 per cent growth" because of the weather changes that would take place in 50 to 100 years from now, he said, explaining Apec's nuanced goals.

"So, a statement of intent like this is not meaningless and it shows the direction in which we are going," he added.

The green conversations will continue during the Asean leaders meeting in Singapore in November and the UN climate summit in Bali in December.

Singapore will do its part to support the green measures, Mr Lee said, even though its efforts may pale in comparison with those of other energy-guzzling countries.

One calculation has it that even if Singapore has zero emissions, the amount that it will save the earth is "equal to the increase in emissions in China in just over a period of three weeks", said Mr Lee.

"So, it's not something that we can do by ourselves. But if everyone does their part, we will do our part," he said.

Singapore to host 2009 Apec summit

The Republic will host the Apec summit in 2009, after Peru takes its turn next year.

Commenting on this, Mr Lee (picture, with Australian Premier John Howard) said that hosting the forum would be a massive exercise due to the security precautions.

"It is a big effort. It means inconvenience to the residents of the city, which we must expect. But like the IMF/World Bank meetings, if we do it well, people (will) know that this is a place where you are not just hosting a meeting, but this is a city which works and which has something to show the world," he said.

Straits Times 10 Sep 07
PM Lee hails Apec statement on climate
Although goals are non-binding, he says consensus among members 'significant'
By Peh Shing Huei

SYDNEY - FAR from being meaningless, the Sydney Declaration on climate change was 'very significant', Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The declaration which was issued on Saturday stated non-binding 'aspirational' goals on curbing gas emissions and protecting forests.

Mr Lee believes it was a statement of intent from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) which would not have been possible just two or three years ago.

'No member opposed the principle of climate change - that it was real, that we have to do something about it, that we have to work together. And that was a significant first step forward,' he told Singapore reporters here at the end of his three-day visit.

The Sydney Declaration fell short of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's aim of having a tougher action plan - no thanks to developing countries led by China, which opposed a commitment to binding targets.

Environmentalists have also dismissed it as symbolic and meaningless.

Mr Lee disagreed, saying that the statement was a 'very big step forward' and that climate change would not have been visible on the Apec agenda two or three years ago.

The key, he added, is that there is now a consensus that environment change is a major problem that needs to be tackled.

He said that as a result of international and domestic pressures, there is a shift in positions among the big countries such as the United States, Australia and China.

'I think the Chinese have also evolved their position as the situation unfolded and implications are clear,' he said. 'They no longer say 'I deny this, this is not my problem'. They say 'I hold you to your commitments and I will do my part. But I have these development issues and I still want economic development'.

'And I think that is a realistic approach because no country is going to say 'I'll do away with 3-4 per cent growth because of the climate which is going to change 50, 60 or 100 years from now'.'

He also does not see Apec as the right forum to negotiate a deal on climate change. This is because major players like the European Union and India are not represented at the grouping.

'Everybody has to be at the table, so that has to be done under UN auspices. But Apec has many major members. So a statement of intent like this is very significant. It is not meaningless. And it shows the direction we are taking,' he said.

He said the environment issue will be the key theme of November's Asean and East Asia summits in Singapore and that he hopes another 'clear statement' can be produced.

For Asean, he believes that the diversity of the 10 countries would mean different aspects of climate change to worry about.

While Singapore is concerned about emissions, the likes of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia find deforestation a more pressing problem.

The greater involvement of the international community, he added, would help Asean's efforts.

Singapore will do its part, but there is a limit to its actions because it is a small country.

'There was one calculation that in Singapore, we shut down everything - zero emissions. But the amount of emissions we will stop will be equal to the increase in emissions in China just over a period of three weeks, as a result of economic growth,' he said.

'So I don't think that it's something we can do by ourselves. If everybody plays their part, we will share and do our part.'

Mr Lee flew home yesterday.

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