US comes clean
Some of the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases have unveiled plans to cut emissions by exporting new technology rather than setting limits on their own industries.
The US, Japan, Australia, India, China and South Korea announced the plans, which have been worked on secretly over the past year, at an event in Laos.
They clear the way for the US and Australia in particular to export a variety of renewable energy and pollution-reducing technologies to developing countries, instead of cutting emissions themselves.
Areas of special focus will include nanotechnologies, advanced biotechnologies and next-generation nuclear fission and fusion, the six partner countries said.
They claimed it would allow the world to take action on climate change in a way that does not interfere with any individual country’s economic growth.
According to a White House bulletin, the deal will aim to build on existing co-operation between the six countries by promoting clean coal use, expanding nuclear power programmes, promoting energy efficiency and increasing the reliance on sources of energy other than fossil fuel.
Partners in the project will also be expected to make progress in areas such as methane capture, advanced transportation and liquefied natural gas, as well as carbon capture and sequestration.
The aim is to focus particularly on developing countries and encourage them to use new energy technologies. This means the deal will also encompass rural and village energy systems for developing countries as well as geothermal building and home construction and the use of renewable energy sources.
The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is a non-binding pact between the participating countries, which have described it as complementing the Kyoto Treaty — which the US would not ratify — rather than detracting from it.
China described the treaty as a ‘win-win’ situation. However, the deal has been criticised by environmental pressure groups as being nothing more than a way for the US to safeguard its own trade in new technologies. They claimed that its voluntary nature will mean that it has little long-term effect on climate change.