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US, Australia Join Energy Partnerships

US, Australia Join Energy Partnerships

Australia has joined the United States in a partnership to alleviate poverty and protect the environment in developing countries by promoting energy efficiency.

Australia's Minister for the Environment, Dr David Kemp, and the Under Secretary of the US Department of Energy, Bob Card, announced the voluntary, 'Type 2' partnership agreement at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The US initiative, Powering Sustainable Development from Village to Metropolis, builds on another partnership led by Australia and Mexico at the Summit on behalf of the APEC Energy Working Group - Fostering Regional Energy Cooperation in APEC: Energy for Sustainable Development.

These two projects will focus on empowering communities to determine the best ways to provide for their energy needs in the most efficient and environmentally sound way.

Together, these partnerships will create synergies of expertise and resources. One of the major purposes of the partnerships will be to leverage additional resources from the private sector, which will be essential to tackle the energy needs of developing countries.

"Access to energy is critical to social and economic development and the alleviation of poverty," Dr Kemp said.

"These partnerships will help bring these energy services to some of the nearly two billion people - mostly in rural areas - who still have no access to modern energy."

"Such energy savings are assets that support broader social and development goals, such as better schools, good health care, cleaner water, responsible stewardship of environmental resources and higher living standards," Undersecretary Card said.

"The provision of efficient energy to rural communities in countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Chile and Peru will help transform them," Dr Kemp said.

"It is essential to an infrastructure that provides greater food security, access to basic medicines, clean water supplies and greater economic development.

"For example, in the Philippines, stand alone power systems are being developed for schools, while biomass from intensive pig farming is generating electricity in Thailand, with technicians trained to support village power. Meanwhile, solar power is connecting remote communities to the internet to enable micro-enterprise in China, with Indonesia and other nations soon to follow.

"Australia has already made major gains in energy efficiency and is keen to share its experience in the global effort to combat poverty. Examples of best practice in Australia include the development of a bakery expected to make energy savings of 40 per cent, a 35 per cent cut in refrigeration energy consumption at a major brewery, and up to 20 per cent energy savings at a large beverage producer.

"The Australia-US energy partnership will enable these successful approaches to be spread beyond the APEC region.

"It will help to alleviate environmental damage caused by phenomena like the Asian brown cloud, by helping to replace traditional biomass fuels for cooking.

"Australia's Remote Renewable Energy Program has shown how reliable, clean, renewable power can be provided to remote communities.

"These are exactly the sort of practical outcomes Australia wants to see emerge from the Summit.

"Energy efficiency is a win-win for developing countries and is a critical component of sustainable development. Some developing countries spend nearly 70 per cent of their budgets on energy, with up to half of that energy going to waste.

"If they achieve even modest efficiencies, they can redirect billions of dollars to essential services like health, education and sanitation. At the same time, they will be conserving their natural resources and protecting the environment for future generations," Dr Kemp said.

The energy partnerships bring together governments, industry, international organisations and non-government organisations, with the APEC proposal focused on improving regional energy security, access to energy, promote clean and efficient technologies and the development of energy infrastructure.

"Our booming environment industries are equally keen to join the private sector's participation in these projects. The partnerships forged and the networks strengthened here in Johannesburg mark the beginning of the real work plan for sustainable development," Dr Kemp said.

"Australia will be working with the United States to attract more partners to increase access to energy and improve its efficiency."

Dr Kemp paid tribute to the work of the Minister for Industry Tourism and Resources (ITR), Ian Macfarlane, and his department in establishing the APEC partnership. ITR will have the major role in carrying the initiative forward.


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