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Asia Pacific Partnership (APP/AP6) commentary

by Nick Bruse

Today I and a small group of people in Melbourne attended a briefing by the Business Council of Sustainable Energy and the Australian Greenhouse office on the Asia Pacific Partnership (APP) on Clean Development. This initiative was established in early 2006 by Australia, Korea, China, India, Japan and the United States.

The APP was proposed by the then Australian Minister for the Environment Senator Ian Campbell on behalf of the Australian Government as an alternative to Kyoto. This gaff was quickly amended by the Prime Minister John Howard to the statement that it presented an complimentary approach and provided a technological pathway to the worlds climate and emissions problems.

Now, 15 months on the APP has only achieved limited levels of success in providing an alternative pathway to achieving emissions reductions and in my view will not be an initiative that will achieve significant reductions in emissions.

Having said that, I do believe that the APP plays an important roll in addressing how governments and industry can work together to address technology transfer and the co-operation issues required to improve the deployment of clean technologies around the world.

The APP consists of 8 taskforces namely:

  • Clean Fossil Energy
  • Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation
  • Power Generation and Transmission
  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Cement
  • Coal Mining
  • Building and Appliances

The main failing that i see of the APP is firstly the limited amount of actual funding being placed into the initiative, and secondly the reluctance of the comprising tasksforces to commit to any specific targets. To date the Australian Government should be praised for having already committed A$100m over 5 years, whilst the United states is still going through approvals to provide $26m.

Of the funds committed the Australian Government has placed around $60m into projects already, around $17.5m in renewable energy projects. However when compared to the amount of funding being sunk into clean technology companies, or the capitalization of the carbon market, its a paltry sum.

When examining the goals of the RE and DG taskforce the first thing that jumps out at you is that they are not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). The 3 goals of the taskforce are:

  1. To accelerate the development of renewable energy and distributed generation over 5 years
  2. To close the remaining gap between the cost of renewable generation and conventional generation
  3. To identify market and policy barriers and implement mechanisms to overcome such barriers to enable partners to achieve their deployment goals

According to John Lende, the Director of RE Partnerships as part of the RE & DG taskforce, it has been a struggle to achieve a level of consensus on such phrases of “5 years”, and members would have preferred a less defined target. In my mind i would question how well you can actually measure the progress achieve according to these goals.

The RE & DG taskforce however has achieved some initial progress in their 3rd meeting in March 2007 in San Diego including the development of 3 new proposals to:

  • Reduce tarrifs on RE technology
  • Develop a level of commonality of framework on emissions trading
  • Improve issues of Intellectual Property rights

All these project i think should be praised as they are essential for supporting clean technology deployment.

My main concern is that the APP by itself will never achieve emissions reductions because it is fundamentally flawed such that it sidelines political will to set targets for emissions reductions, or specific targets for technology adoptions nor implements any sort of market mechanism to price carbon. Our problem today is not that we lack the technologies to start reducing emissions, but we lack political will to affect the change rapidly.

If only we had the luxury that all governments were in agreement to implement across the board emissions reduction programs, and all we had to do was solve were a few issues of cross board technology migration.

For more information on the APP you can access the Australian Government website at www.ap6.gov.au.


Nick Bruse runs Strike Consulting, a growth venture consultancy specialising in the cleantech sector and hosts the cleantech show, a weekly podcast of interviews with leaders involved in clean technology research, entrepreneurship, commentary and investment.