APEC energy officials are strengthening cooperation to accelerate progress toward the clean energy transition while ensuring sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region as they meet in Detroit, a city with deep roots as an industrial town.
“Energy is the foundation on which our economies are built, and it’s what makes everything else possible. At the same time, our current energy systems are the primary driver of climate change, the greatest existential threat we face,” said Ariadne BenAissa, the Lead Shepherd of the APEC Energy Working Group (EWG) during the group’s meeting on 21-22 May.
The APEC region contributed to 59 percent of global total primary energy supply in 2020, according to the group. Fossil fuels dominate APEC’s energy mix at 86 percent of total primary energy supply and 75 percent of electricity generation.
Though fossil fuels dominate the current energy mix, and the region continues to add coal capacity, APEC is experiencing accelerated growth in renewable energy, and is currently ahead of schedule in meeting the existing goals to double renewable energy and energy intensity.
“We have worked together to advance energy security, accelerate deployment of renewable energy, and reduce energy intensity, among other areas,” said Elizabeth Urbanas, the United States Co-Chair of the EWG.
“But we must strengthen our energy ambitions to accelerate progress while safeguarding the most vulnerable populations impacted by climate change,” Urbanas added.
To advance the current progress of APEC’s energy work, the United States as the host of APEC 2023, has put forward a proposal for the forum to adopt a new aggregate goal for power sector decarbonization, with a new target for electricity from carbon-free or carbon-neutral sources by 2035.
“We also need to reduce methane emissions, which can be achieved through exchanges on leakage detection, methane abatement technologies and approaches, and a commitment to carry forward these efforts,” Urbanas said.
Recognizing the need to take care of the people in the region as economies cope with the changes required to transition to a new energy paradigm, energy officials, experts, academia and civil society held a policy dialogue on just energy transition preceding their meeting.
The dialogue looked into practical actions for member economies’ consideration as they decrease the reliance on fossil fuels for power and energy production and increase the use of clean energy. This includes incorporating inclusivity and focus on supporting the region’s workforce, including women, small and medium enterprises and other with untapped economic potential.
“We may be talking about offshore wind deployment, hydrogen infrastructure, or digital solar maps, but at the heart of all of this, what we are talking about is taking care of our people,” BenAissa concluded.
The group is preparing for the 2023 Energy Ministerial Meeting this August in Seattle. The last ministerial meeting was held eight years ago, in 2015, in the Philippines.
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