How is climate change relevant to APEC?
Climate change can cause extreme weather conditions, damage and deplete natural resources and affect livelihoods and food security. This impacts both individuals and economies, with developing economies experiencing the most adverse effects. In addition, climate change is believed to contribute to the increasing number of natural disasters, about 70 percent of which occur in the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, it is imperative that APEC economies, which account for approximately 60 percent of world energy consumption, find ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels to meet energy demands. As the region becomes increasingly industrialized and the population shifts from rural to urban areas, these consumption levels are set to rise.
APEC’s commitment to manage climate change
APEC aims to tackle climate change through various concerted efforts such fostering renewable energies, collaborating on ocean and forest conservation, reducing energy consumption, promoting trade in environmental goods and helping farming and fishing communities adapt to changing weather patterns.
Our commitment to manage climate change was laid out in 1993 by APEC Leaders’ in their Economic Vision Statement:
"Our environment is improved as we protect the quality of our air, water and green spaces and manage our energy resources and renewable resources to ensure sustainable growth and provide a more secure future for our people."
Since then, APEC continues to renew our commitment to address climate change and APEC Ministers have agreed to the following goals:
Doubling the share of renewables: On 2 September 2014, APEC Energy Ministers met in Beijing, China, and issued the Beijing Declaration where the Ministers expressed their aspirational goal of doubling the share of renewables in the APEC energy mix by 2030, and agreed to develop a road map to achieve this goal. Additionally, in 2011, APEC Leaders aimed to reduce energy intensity by at least 45 percent by 2035.
Increasing forest cover: In October 2013, APEC Foreign and Trade Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to increase forest cover in the APEC region by 20 million hectares by 2020. Ministers also committed to sustainable forest management, enhancing governance through institutional and legal frameworks, indigenous community participation, and strengthened efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade, among others. Read the 2013 Ministers’ Declaration.
Marine conservation: In the 2014 Xiamen Declaration, APEC Ocean-Related Ministers identified four priority areas for collaboration: (1) Coastal and marine ecosystem conservation and disaster resilience; (2) The role of the ocean on food security and food-related trade; (3) Marine science, technology and innovation; and (4) Blue Economy.
Initiatives to promote sustainable pathways in the region:
1. Green Towns – A series of APEC Low Carbon Model Town Projects have helped urban planners formulate feasibility and development plans for reducing the carbon footprint of Tianjin, China (2011); Samui Island, Thailand (2012); and Da Nang, Vietnam (2013). The town development plans include a set of carbon dioxide emission targets and initiatives from installing solar power to electric motorbikes that will reduce overall emissions. San Borja, Peru has been selected as the next town to receive the low carbon feasibility and planning. For more information, see recent APEC feature article.
2. Clean Transportation – APEC is promoting clean energy for shipping, lowering the carbon footprint of marine transportation and promoting sustainable port development and construction (read APEC Transportation Working Group). Moreover, APEC also focuses on promoting the usage of electric vehicles and energy-efficient automotive components and standards across the region (read APEC Automotive Dialogue).
3. Adapting to Climate Change – APEC is collaborating with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to assess climate change impacts to agriculture in APEC developing economies and to help local farmers adapt to changing weather patterns. The project conducts modelling of rainfall and temperature changes, analyzes how this affects crop yields and identifies vulnerable regions. For example, in the Philippines, the project identified areas that are experiencing more rainfall and conducted community outreach to teach local farmers how to adapt to these climate changes through introducing flood-resistant rice varieties. For more information, see the APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group.
4. APEC Climate Center – The Center helps economies mitigate the consequences of climate-related hazards through the provision of climate information, research and technical support. Visit www.apcc21.org.
5. Promoting Trade in Environmental Goods – APEC members are promoting trade in environmental goods—from solar panels to wind turbines—in the region by reducing tariff to 5 per cent or less by the end of 2015. View the full list of environmental goods here or check out the info-graphic on promoting global trade in environmental goods.
• Read Interview: APEC economies tackling oceans-related challenges with Greg Schneider, Lead Shepherd of the APEC Oceans and Fisheries Working Group.
• Read article on how APEC has helped rural villagers by turning expired patents into sustainable power sources.