Ministers disagree on how to combat climate change
By Sonia K
Photo: Info Dept

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, attended the second day of the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Foreign Ministers in Hamburg yesterday.

On Monday evening His Royal Highness attended a reception for ministers attending the meeting hosted by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Council of the EU and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

His Royal Highness later joined other foreign ministers and the Secretary-General of the Council and High Representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, Javier Solana, at a working dinner hosted by Steinmeier.

The ministers exchanged views on Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.

Foreign ministers on Tuesday from Asia and Europe disagreed on how to combat climate change, with a draft declaration leaving key policy issues vague, dpa quoted diplomats as saying.

The 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations says its members need time but action is needed on global warming, Reuters reported.

"I think we should now try to find a way to try and bring about some measurable results," Asean Secretary General Ong Keng Yong told reporters.

"If we go on arguing about whether this number or this standard is fair or not fair we will never agree on what to do, and in the meantime the earth is getting warmer and more things are happening."

He said Asean countries should now work to achieve "some of the deliverables".

"If we can sit down and prepare ourselves it will be not as bad as if we had not prepared ourselves."

A final statement from the meeting of 16 Asian and 27 European Union ministers or their deputies was also set to appeal to Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi, 61, the Nobel Peace laureate who was told last week she faced a further year under house arrest, dpa added.

Many European nations were affronted last week by the extension of her detention from four to five years. There was "a frank exchange of views on Myanmar" at the meeting, a draft for the final statement said.

On climate change, where European nations have been vying to offer deep cuts in their carbon-dioxide emissions, China led a group insisting that economic development took priority over cuts.

The final declaration was expected to "recognise the important role of energy and climate change as a major challenge for foreign policy" but gave no hint of any new accord on the issues.

The draft document hinted at disagreement on calls for investors to obtain greater security when they put their money into renewable energy and methods of improving energy efficiency.

Investors have sought minimum legal standards to ensure they do not lose their money. The draft statement said this must "take national circumstances into account".

The 43 nations at ASEM called for "cooperation on technologies that promote sustainable use of energy, the development and utilisation of renewable and alternative energy and measures to deal with the loss of biodiversity and deforestation".

On Monday, at the start of the meeting, the EU and China were at odds over climate change policy. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi rebuffed calls for China, which has nearly a quarter of the world's population, to agree to sharp cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. - Borneo Bulletin (30th May 2007)