Clean Development and Climate Change
Another issue of importance to the Asia Pacific region is the integrated decision-making among three key policy areas -- energy, development and the environment. The East-Asia Pacific region alone accounts for one quarter of global GDP. Eight out of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are found in Asia. This economic growth is beneficial -- it reduces poverty, increases longevity, and improves living conditions.
However, rapid economic growth also presents challenges. The manner in which these burgeoning Asian countries meet their water and energy needs, protect their citizens’ health, use their resources, and preserve the integrity of their natural environments is an issue of critical importance not just to the region, but to the global community.
Responses to these challenges should not be to limit the very economic dynamism that is lifting so many countries out of poverty. The development and adoption of cleaner energy technologies is an effective approach that will sustain economic growth, while protecting the environment and enhancing energy security. During last year’s G8 Summit in Gleneagles, G8 leaders agreed to such an approach and produced an action plan for meeting these shared objectives.
Congress, through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, called for renewed efforts to help developing countries power their growing economies with cleaner energy technologies. The Administration is responding by launching the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a major new initiative of six nations -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Together, these nations represent about half of the world's economy, population and energy use.
This voluntary Partnership is designed to accelerate the development and deployment of cleaner, more efficient technologies in order to reduce pollution, mitigate climate change, and enhance energy security through public-private sector collaboration. It focuses on the development and commercialization of transformational low and zero emissions energy technologies. As Secretary Rice has said, “Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone stands to gain. And together we represent a powerful force for positive change.”
The Partnership has identified eight areas for cooperation: cleaner use of fossil energy; renewable energy and distributed generation; power generation and transmission; aluminum; steel; cement; buildings and appliances; and finally, mining. Partner countries will meet in two weeks to begin drafting a detailed plan to carry out an ambitious agenda in each of these areas.
The President’s FY07 budget requests $52 million for this initiative, which complements the nearly $3 billion spent annually by the U.S. to develop and deploy clean energy technologies. The private sector also plays a critical role in the Partnership. Participation by corporate global leaders in the energy sector is key, since they account for a good portion of the world's industrial production and power generation. We are working with business leaders from all the partner countries to deploy the best technologies and practices to lower the cost of production, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and develop and bring to the marketplace the next generation of clean energy technologies. In so doing, we will protect Asia’s future economic growth, energy security, and the environment.
Asia is home to a range of vibrant democratic experiences. There is, for example, India, an economic powerhouse and the world’s largest democracy.
In addressing the Asia Society, President Bush highlighted the Global Democracy Initiative, a partnership between India and the United States to further democracy and development around the world. As part of this initiative, India and the United States have made significant financial contributions, $10 million each, to the United Nations Democracy Fund. The Fund will provide grants to governments, civil institutions, and international organizations to help administer elections, fight corruption, and build the rule of law in emerging democratic nations. During the President’s visit to India in February, our nations agreed to cooperate with Hungary’s International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT) on democracy promotion activities.
At the other end of the spectrum are Burma and North Korea. In Burma, rather than respond to the international community’s growing concerns, the military junta has instead become more intransigent. Besides keeping Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous leader of the National League for Democracy, under house arrest, the regime is also condemning the Burmese people to repression, brutality and neglect, and subjecting its neighbors to disease, narcotics and staggering outflows of refugees.
Meanwhile, North Korea is one of the world’s most closed countries. During the 1990’s, millions of North Koreans starved to death and countless others confined to languish in a massive network of prison camps. Religious faith is severely suppressed and its people have one of the lowest standards of living in the world. In its assessment of political rights and civil liberties, Freedom House gives North Korea the lowest possible score on both counts. Those who have fled North Korea—estimates in the tens of thousands —also face peril.
Last year, President Bush appointed a Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, whose work is to improve respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of North Korea.
T he United States is devoting significant attention to its relationship with China. As Deputy Secretary Zoellick noted last September, “It is time to take our policy beyond opening doors to China’s membership into the international system: We need to urge China to become a responsible stakeholder in that system.”
China and the United States face many common challenges -- regional and global, economic and political, social and environmental. We are encouraged by – and welcome -- growing positive engagement by China on important issues such as North Korea, peacekeeping, and energy.
Indeed, we are cooperating with China in many ways. Deputy Secretary Zoellick inaugurated a Senior Dialogue with China. I co-chair the U.S.-China Global Issues Forum in which our two countries address common global challenges and areas for cooperation such as sustainable development; humanitarian assistance, poverty alleviation, development financing; law enforcement; and public health.
But clearly, we have differences with China as well. As it grows in power, China must also grow as a responsible global leader. As President Bush said in Kyoto last November “b y meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China's leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation.” We would welcome progress with respect to political prisoners, freedom of press, and freedom of worship. Issues such as these must remain on the agenda and be resolved even as we recognize our expanding sphere of common interests. We are encouraged that dialogue between the Chinese and the Dalai Lama’s envoys is underway, and hope to witness concrete results in the near term.