Energy chiefs from China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States nations that consume nearly half the world's oil gathered in Beijing on Saturday to seek solutions to their shared concern on energy issues.
The five key countries made clear their willingness to strengthen mutual co-operation in front of the common challenge of energy security, stability and sustainability. The message they sent at the energy meeting is important and positive for themselves and the world.
The meeting came at a time when world oil prices keep fluctuating and energy demand continues to grow.
Oil prices have been particularly buoyant in recent years, soaring from some US$20 per barrel in 2002 to more than US$70 per barrel early this year. Though oil prices have currently fallen from the peak of US$79 per barrel to about US$60, they are still more than 50 percent higher than that in 2004. It is believed that global energy demand will only increase.
The reasons behind the oil price volatility are complex and manifold: Growing demand for oil; concerns over the adequacy of investment in oil production capacity in the long-term; current low levels of spare production capacity; refining capacity bottlenecks; prolonged political instability in some oil producing regions, and market speculation.
However such fluctuations and increases in international oil prices have exerted a negative impact on the world economy, in particular for developing countries.
Hence, this energy meeting was aimed at safeguarding the steady and sustainable development of the global energy industry and building a new concept of energy security featuring mutual benefit and diversified development.
The agreement reached by the five leading energy-consuming countries to enhance their energy co-operation in a number of areas is a welcome start. To ensure global energy security, all countries of the international community are called on to join in.
As a fast-developing country, China is keenly aware of the necessity to adjust its energy policy in line with its pursuit of environment-friendly, energy-saving, and sustainable development.
Extensive economic growth has increasingly tested the limit of the country's energy supply and environment. It has become a national consensus that the country can no longer afford to achieve high-speed economic growth at any cost.
In fact, China has already made improvement of energy efficiency a top priority in its new development plan. Between 2006 and 2010, the country will cut the use of energy per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent.
Nevertheless, the grim reality that the country has not made much progress on the reduction of energy intensity so far this year, shows that more efforts are needed to bring in place policy incentives to encourage energy saving. On the other hand, it highlighted the importance to narrow the energy efficiency gap between China and developed economies.
(China Daily December 18, 2006)