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Posted on on November 10th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (…

Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries will seek to expand their forests by a combined 15 million hectares by 2020 to help fight global warming, according to the draft of a special statement expected to be adopted at their Nov. 21 summit in Singapore.

Kyodo News, Japan Times on line, Sunday, November 11, 2007.

The draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, calls for “encouraging environmentally sustainable planning and management of the region’s forests while strengthening forest law enforcement and governance to combat illegal logging and other harmful practices.”

It also stipulates that the 16 countries set voluntary energy-saving targets and compile action plans by 2009.

The draft calls on the countries to participate actively in a process for developing an international climate change arrangement after the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto pact aims to cut developed countries’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by imposing binding reduction targets.

Forests are major absorbers of carbon dioxide.

The draft, titled “Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment,” will be the first of its kind to be adopted at the East Asian Summit.

It throws support behind a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 and calls for promoting the use of nuclear energy and biofuels.

The draft also says the 16 should work toward achieving a regional goal of reducing “energy intensity” by at least 25 percent by 2030.

Energy intensity is a figure used to gauge an economy’s energy efficiency. It is defined as energy consumption divided by GDP. The lower the number the better.

But it is uncertain whether this will enter the final statement. India, which lags the others in energy conservation, strongly opposes such a target, a Japanese official said.

The East Asia Summit features the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam — plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

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