Tokyo, Japan 17-19 April 2007 – Developing coordinated policies on energy and the environment is a key issue in the Asia-Pacific Region according to U.S. Ambassador to Japan, J. Thomas Schieffer. The ambassador, speaking to attendees of an April 2007 conference on “Energy Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific,” also stated that energy – its security, stability and deliverability – drives much of our respective foreign policies, thus making it vital for countries to explore new cooperative solutions.
Co-hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies the April multi-national forum focused on improving regional understanding and cooperation on Asia-Pacific energy issues. It provided a venue for robust and candid discussion of various national perspectives and policy options among senior security practitioners and energy experts from Australia, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
According to APCSS Professor Mohan Malik, “Recognizing that the challenge of assuaging energy insecurities can be met only through greater communication and joint cooperation among Asia-Pacific nations, this conference was conducted in a series of focused and facilitated discussions.”
In addition, Dr. Malik said that conference attendees concluded that a three-pronged approach to energy policy based on supply security, energy substitution, and conservation is needed to promote energy security worldwide. “It raised awareness and enhanced confidence among participants to develop modes of cooperation and networks that can be tapped for future action to resolve energy security issues.”
Objectives of the conference included developing a framework for characterizing dimensions of Asia-Pacific energy security; identifying areas for coordinated institutional and policy action; and formulating fresh, regional approaches to energy management; and sustained cooperative action.
Some of the findings included:
- Regional economic growth will continue with strong dependence on energy consumption. Consequently, lowering energy intensity and enhancing conservation will remain the most viable approach to rationalizing energy consumption and avoiding potential energy resource conflict.
- General appreciation for the importance and urgency of developing alternative energy sources and addressing CO2 generated climate change with the realistic expectation of dependency on hydrocarbon fuels in the near future. Nuclear energy seen as most promising alternative, requiring regional collaboration.
- Oil and coal will remain the dominating consumption resource driven by India and China’s energy needs. Gas consumption preferred but hampered by the high cost of coal conversion to gas and transportation challenges. Encourage and assist India and China in building adequate strategic reserves.
- Maritime transportation of energy will dominate in the region despite growth in pipeline networks. Thus, continued reliance on U.S. for security of sea lanes and strategic straits.
- Japan’s energy strategy, based on conservation, advanced and safe technologies, recognized as possible model for developing energy sectors in countries in the region. Particularly, China is interested in receiving Japanese energy technology.
The conference concluded with attendees agreeing that the future actions should include the following:
- Identify and promote energy cooperation opportunities in international and regional organizations and the private sector.
- Engage China to dispel suspicions about U.S. energy ambitions and use energy dialogue with China as a Confidence Building Measure.
- Use important regional forums to advance energy cooperation and promote workshop findings and recommendations.
- Use APCSS as a catalyst and clearing house for follow-on activities with regional partners and organizations for the purpose of enhancing regional energy cooperation and confidence building.