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Experts say Asia needs Investment in Clean Energy to ease Climate Change, Oil Price Burden

Jun 3, 2008 - TERESA CEROJANO - The Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines - Energy experts on Tuesday called for massive investment in clean energy in Asia, warning that delays will hasten climate change and make the region more vulnerable to oil and coal price spikes.

Up to $6.4 trillion (euro4.12 trillion) in new energy infrastructure is needed by 2030, and unless Asia moves away from dependence on oil and coal, it will continue to suffer from spiraling fuel costs and climate change, the Asian Development Bank said.

" Soaring fuel and commodity prices, threats from climate change and growing problems of poor people having limited access to energy, all point to the need to take action," ADB Vice President Ursula Schafer-Preuss told a clean energy forum attended by over 500 experts.

The ADB said clean energy was already attracting significant investment - about $148 billion last year - but much of the money earmarked for investment in alternative energy goes to Europe and other developed regions, with little reaching Asia because of a lack of supportive policies and laws.

Preuss said the Manila-based lender has achieved its annual target of $1 billion in investments in clean energy for the region and expects to surpass it by 50 percent at the end of this year.

" Given the cost of oil and its impact on the climate, there is no better time than now to take action," said Winston Brown, environment director for the U.S. Agency for International Development. "If action isn't taken now, it will be more costly to do so in the future."

Many scientists blame global warming on greenhouse gases such carbon dioxide that come from burning fossil fuels.

The three-day forum also will focus on new approaches to urban transport in many Asian cities, including railways and other public transport systems as alternatives to cars and trucks.

Sustainable development of biofuels, coal power plant efficiency, improved access to energy, and sources of funding and investments are among the topics.