SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 13, 2011) — Energy and transportation ministers from 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific region today agreed to continue progress on initiatives to make transportation in the region cleaner and more energy-efficient, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced this week.
The announcement came during the first-ever joint Transportation and Energy Ministerial Conference held by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the principal economic organization for the region. Secretaries LaHood and Chu hosted the San Francisco meeting.
“Transportation is directly tied to our energy challenges,” Secretary Chu said. “To achieve economic prosperity, strengthen energy security, and protect the environment, we can – and must – move to a sustainable transportation future.”
“To create jobs and lay the foundation for a prosperous future, we must grow our economies while staying mindful of 21st-century challenges like climate change and energy efficiency,” Secretary LaHood said. “Our roadways, runways, railways, waterways, and transit systems all must move greater numbers of people and products while leaving a smaller environmental footprint.”
Recognizing that transportation accounts for a large share of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the ministers directed their energy and transportation working groups to study ways that APEC members could make their transportation systems more energy-efficient. The ministers noted that APEC economies are making good progress toward the goal, adopted by the organization in 2007, of reducing the use of energy in economic activity by at least 25 percent by 2030, and called for efforts to make further improvements. They also called for further efforts to phase out subsidies that promote the use of fossil fuels.
Other actions called for by the ministers include:
• Developing energy-efficient transportation systems for livable, low-carbon communities – The ministers recognized how livable communities contribute to reducing energy use, carbon emissions and travel times. They called for the development of performance measures to evaluate how locating development near transit, expanding rail and bus service, and promoting bicycling and walking contribute to more energy-efficient transportation.
• Providing alternative fuels for transportation – The ministers called for the promotion of biofuels, natural gas vehicles and electric vehicles to reduce the use of oil in transportation. They also stressed the need to maintain consumer confidence in electric vehicles by taking precautionary steps to ensure their safety, and called for harmonized approaches to addressing the safety of these vehicles.
• Making freight transportation more energy-efficient – Because freight transportation accounts for a substantial share of energy use in the APEC region, the ministers said that the working groups would develop strategies and best practices for improving energy efficiency in the movement of freight. They also called for measures to encourage shippers to switch from energy-intensive transportation modes, such as trucks, to more efficient rail and maritime transportation.
Today’s joint Transportation and Energy Ministerial Conference will be followed tomorrow by the 7th Transportation Ministerial Meeting, during which APEC transportation ministers will further discuss promoting innovative, environmentally sustainable transportation. They also will discuss the need for enhancing regulatory cooperation among the APEC economies and with relevant international organizations as appropriate, and for strengthening regional integration by removing barriers to trade and investment.