The Associated Press
Sunday, June 8, 2008
The world’s top industrialized nations and leading oil consumers pledged Sunday to fight surging energy prices by increasing efficiency and accelerating investment in new technologies while urging producers to expand production.
Energy ministers from the Group of 8, joined by China, India and South Korea, voiced concerns over record oil prices and said producers and consumers would benefit from greater market stability.
The ministers, meeting in the northern Japanese city of Aomori, focused Sunday on how they could diversify their energy sources to both control rising demand for oil and rein in emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
“We simply must increase the level and breadth of investment all around the world,” said Samuel Bodman, the U.S. energy secretary.
“That means promoting aggressive investment in renewable energy and other alternative energies technologies, as well as the development of tradition hydrocarbon resources.”
The 11 nations, which account for 65 percent of the world’s energy consumption, are grappling with oil prices that have hit record highs. Prices surged more than 8 percent Friday to $138.54 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The G-8 countries – the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Britain – laid out ways of cutting their dependence on oil in a statement.
They pledged to begin 20 demonstration projects by 2010 on so-called “carbon capture and storage,” which would allow power plants to catch emissions and inject them into underground storage spaces.
There were clear rifts, however, on how to approach the expansion of nuclear energy. The carefully worded joint statement called for assurances on safety and security of nuclear materials, but several nations said they were enthusiastic about building new reactors.
“I think we’re on the verge of a new nuclear age and that will be a positive thing for the world,” said John Hutton, the British secretary of state for business enterprise and regulatory reform.
Germany, however, said it would not join the effort. Jochen Homann, the German economics minister, said Berlin was sticking to its decision to phase out nuclear power.
The G-8, China, India and South Korea also established the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation to promote best practices in conserving energy.
The ministers met amid rising concerns that soaring oil prices could trigger global economic troubles.
“The situation regarding energy prices is becoming extremely challenging,” said Akira Amari, the Japanese trade and energy minister. “If left unaddressed, it may well cause a recession in the global economy.”
<strong>Seoul to subsidize fuel costs</strong>
South Korea said Sunday that it would hand out $10.2 billion to its lowest-income citizens over the next year to offset the rising price of oil, Reuters reported from Seoul.
“The superhigh oil prices are affecting not only our country but the whole world,” Prime Minister Han Seung Soo said. “But the difficulty is especially severe with our country that produces not a single drop of oil but is the world’s fifth-largest oil consumer.”