Asia-Pacific countries must work together to ensure that nuclear power can continue its important role in the region's energy mix despite the experiences of Fukushima, according to a declaration from energy ministers.
Energy ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) member countries concluded a two-day meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, with a declaration detailing the energy security and strategic challenges faced by the region. The statement touches on all aspects of energy markets from energy security issues to commitments to reduce aggregate energy intensity of Apec economies by 45% from 2005 levels by 2035. It includes a list of instructions from the ministers to ensure the region can achieve secure and sustainable growth in its energy markets.
Opening the meeting, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak referred to rising fuel demands in the region and the need to use and manage limited resources more efficiently, with "modern" energy saving technology and environmentally clean technologies becoming increasingly important. "We include nuclear power plants in this list and we will also develop alternative energy sources," he said.
Apec members account for 60% of global energy demand, and include four of the world's largest energy consumers. Eight Apec countries (Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, the USA and Taiwan) have nuclear power plants.
The Apec ministers pledged to work towards ensuring the safe and secure use of nuclear energy in interested economies as part of concerted action to enhance energy security. The statement recognises the importance of the "safe and secure" use of nuclear energy in the region and its potential to diversify the regional energy mix while meeting growing energy demand and reducing greenhouse gas emissions "despite the tragic accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power station."
Those Apec economies that already have nuclear programs should share their expertise, knowledge and best practices with those economies that are interested in developing nuclear programs, the statement notes. Moreover, particular attention should be given to strengthening cooperation between Apec members and international organisations, particularly the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). To this end, the ministers have instructed Apec's Energy Working Group to work on organising regional cooperation both in nuclear energy and in emergency prevention, emergency warning systems and enhanced nuclear safety.
The region as a whole should learn from the experience of Fukushima, the St Petersburg declaration notes, stating: "We expect that Japan should contribute to the international approach by sharing its knowledge and experience, including information on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and recognise the progress made by the Japanese government to bring the station to a stable condition."
International cooperation is a recurrent theme in the statement and instructions issued by the ministers. As well as cooperation on nuclear safety with the IAEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the ministers have also issued instructions on collaboration with the International Energy Agency and others to improve the response to oil and gas emergency situations and also on energy security initiatives.