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APEC adopts Sydney declaration on climate change

The summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation held in Sydney is drawing to a close and the leaders of the member economies are about to sign the final documents. On Saturday the participants reached a tentative agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissi

Fighting common challenges such as climate change, and ensuring energy security and sustainable development of all countries in the region – these are the aims pursued by the 21 member economies of the APEC forum.

Several bilateral meetings are scheduled for Sunday, the final day of the summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with the South Korean leader.

Meanwhile, Russia was among the countries to support the aim of improving energy efficiency by 25% over the next 23 years.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, said that a Sydney Declaration on climate change has been adopted in support of the United Nation's global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“In the Sydney Declaration we have agreed on three very important and quite specific things. Firstly, the need for a long-term global emissions reduction goal – and that is enshrined in the Sydney Declaration. Secondly, the need for all nations – no matter their stage of development – to contribute according to their capacities and their own circumstances to reducing greenhouse gases. Thirdly, we have agreed on specific APEC goals on energy intensity. We also agreed on the important role of clean coal technologies,” the Australian Prime Minister stated.

He noted “that meeting energy needs and development priorities while addressing climate change represents a major international challenge”.

“The document draws particular attention to climate change, and sustainable and environment friendly development. It was agreed upon at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. It has several fundamental principles, which will help, as we prepare for the UN talks in Indonesia in December. Among the principals there are – free will, responsibility, and universal cover for all future agreements, because one of the drawbacks of the Kyoto Protocol is that not all the main polluting states have taken on obligations,” commented Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russia’s President Putin has held several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the official APEC summit’s agenda.

APEC meeting
APEC meeting

He has met with the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao. Mr Putin stated that relations between Russia and China have reached their height, and Russia's policy towards China will remain unchanged. In his comments after the meeting, Hu Jintao stressed the talks were open and sincere.

Russia also says it is ready to find a compromise and a peace agreement with Japan. That was the outcome of a meeting between the Russian President and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two have been at disagreement over the ownership of the Kuril Islands.

“Russia is interested in the negotiation process which will lead to a peace treaty between our countries. We will try to find solutions which are acceptable for both sides. I'm confident that Russia will continue this process even after the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in our country,” the Russian President underlined.

Mr Shinzo Abe, for his part, also pointed out his country’s readiness for further co-operation.

“During the previous meeting we also discussed Russian-Japanese actions in all spheres, including the important matter of signing a peace treaty, which we are interested in. I already initiated the strengthening of our partnership in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. We met today in the framework of the APEC summit – and I want to say that Japan backed Russia's bid to host the 2012 APEC forum in Vladivostok from the point of strengthening of our co-operation,” he said.

Russia and Japan haven't signed a peace agreement since World War II, when Japan fought against the Soviet Union on the side of Nazi Germany.

A firework display over Opera Sydney House has marked the end of the first day of the APEC summit. The leaders will be leaving Sydney tomorrow after another day of talks.

Anti-Bush protests in Sydney
Anti-Bush protests in Sydney

Meantime, thousands people were taking part in largely trouble-free demonstrations at the summit, mainly aimed at U.S. President George Bush. Two police officers were injured and so far nine protesters have been arrested.

Russia Today's Political commentator Peter Lavelle explained why Russia sees the APEC organisation as an important forum.

“I think one of the things is that Russia wants to be a part of one of the most dynamic economic zones in the world right now. For the most part, it directed their trade to Western Europe. What they want to do is to diversify that even to North America, part of APEC. Russia wants to be a player on a major new market and really wants to break into it without a lot of barriers which it sees in Western Europe,” he said.

Peter Lavelle also stressed that the principles of the APEC summit are openness and respect for each other’s view.

“Seventy percent of the world’s economic growth comes from this group of countries where there are almost three billion people. And it works on a mechanism when you don’t commit any things, it is all about consensus. For another forum it doesn’t work – it works for APEC for some reason. Another thing is that any leader can bring any issue they want to the summit, it is not closed, and everyone respects each other’s view,” he commented.

(Please follow the link to watch the opening of APEC 2007 live)