Asian Governments Pledge Shift To Green Energy

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Asian governments pledged Wednesday to push to make factories in their nations more energy efficient and less polluting, but a senior United Nations official worried that falling investments in "green energy" would make it more difficult to fight climate change.

Ministers and senior officials from 21 countries attending a three-day conference on green, or environment-friendly, industry in Asia issued a declaration including a pledge to create cleaner industrial production programs, establish a regional energy management standard and create an experts' group to share knowledge.

The Manila conference, co-sponsored by the Philippines and the United Nations, seeks ways to switch Asian industries from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power while sustaining the region's rapid economic growth. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide gases that contribute to global warming.

The officials said the declaration can be used as part of the region's contribution to a U.N. meeting on climate change later this month in New York, and negotiations in Copenhagen in December that aim to achieve an ambitious new global treaty on climate change.

Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, said Asia's energy use is likely to rise by 112 percent by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario, while its share of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions could increase to 42 percent from 29 percent in 2005.

With industries accounting for two-fifths of the world's processed carbon dioxide emissions, shifting to efficient energy sources would be the most cost-effective, least-polluting and most readily available option, he told the conference.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Yumkella said rich countries have not provided as much financial assistance as expected to poorer nations to switch to cleaner energy to combat climate change.

"Because of the financial crisis now, even more worrying, is that we've seen a decline by 40 percent in investments in renewable energy since the middle of last year to now," he said.

"We have seen also some decline in the interest in investing in what we call sustainable infrastructure or green infrastructure," he added.

Yumkella said "climate justice" requires that technology, knowledge and financing should flow to poorer countries suffering the most for problems they have not created.

Large amounts of money would be needed for a global shift to green energy. But officials say the cost of repairing economies damaged by pollution would be greater than investing in clean energy.

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