New energy pact signed by 16 Asian and Pacific nations lacks targets

Yesterday, the leaders of 16 Asian and Pacific nations bumped into each other on the street, chatted for a few minutes, then promised to “totally get together for lunch some time.” At least, that’s one interpretation of the signing of a landmark energy pact that reaches from Australia to India. While the agreement promises an increased emphasis on biofuels and energy efficiency and seeks to cut reliance on oil from the Middle East, it doesn’t require compliance or, for that matter, include concrete targets. Some say concerns about the vagueness of the document — issued just after the conclusion of a summit of Southeast Asian nations that also addressed terrorism, free trade, natural disasters, and nuclear security — are out of place. “This is very early days in the east Asia context to be talking about targets,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, somewhat incoherently. Observers worried by the region’s booming greenhouse-gas emissions, however, say there’s simply no time to waste.