Climate needs 'concrete action': APEC

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Australia has joined with other major players in the Asia-Pacific to push for "urgent and concrete action" to tackle climate change.

The leaders of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, including Scott Morrison, issued a statement on Saturday pledging commitments which they said would accelerate economic recovery and achieve "sustainable and inclusive growth".

"In 2021, the world continues to confront unprecedented challenges posed by the impacts of climate change," the leaders said.

"We acknowledge the need for urgent and concrete action to transition to a climate-resilient future global economy and appreciate net zero or carbon neutrality commitments in this regard."

A plan was agreed to examine policies which would phase out "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies".

Part of the plan also notes the need to "accelerate progress towards the 2030 target of doubling the share of renewable energy in the APEC energy mix, including in power generation, from 2010 levels by 2030; and to deliver a plan to reduce aggregate energy intensity by 45 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2035".

However, the statement noted only "some progress" in strengthening the region's capacity to adopt renewable energy.

On the pandemic, the leaders acknowledged the "ongoing uncertainty" caused by COVID-19 and the uneven economic recovery across the region.

"We are taking steps to ensure growth rebounds quickly and to boost the global economic recovery."

The leaders rejected "vaccine nationalism", and agreed to lower tariffs on vaccines and related products to combat COVID-19, speed them through customs and avoid export bans.

Earlier, Mr Morrison used a media conference to hit back at criticism from China that new partnerships threatened the stability of the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden were among the leaders at the summit.

China has been critical of the Quad partnership formed between Australia, Japan, India and the US as well as the more recent AUKUS pact, under which Australia is exploring the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Xi told an APEC business forum the Asia-Pacific region must not "relapse into the confrontation and division of the Cold War era".

He said attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds were bound to fail.

With Australia having faced Chinese sanctions on a number of exports in recent years, Mr Morrison responded: "(We must ensure) countries in a free and open Indo-Pacific can trade together and that countries are not subject to trade coercion, trade bullying and that the rules of the trade system are respected and that they are upheld."

China's military said on Tuesday it conducted a combat readiness patrol in the direction of the Taiwan Strait.

It came after its defence ministry condemned a visit by a US congressional delegation to Taiwan, the democratically governed island claimed by Beijing.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken later warned that the US and its allies would take action if China were to use force to alter the status quo.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said it would be "inconceivable" for Australia not to support Washington in taking action to defend Taiwan

"Maybe there are circumstances where we wouldn't take up that option, (but) I can't conceive of those circumstances," he told The Australian newspaper.

"(China's) been very clear about their intent to go into Taiwan and we need to make sure that there is a high level of preparedness, a greater sense of deterrence by our capability, and that is how I think we put our country in a position of strength."

The final APEC leaders' statement, in its comments on trade, called for a "free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment".

Mr Biden told the summit his country would do more to build on the 64 million COVID-19 vaccine doses provided so far to APEC economies.

He also underlined America's commitment to "unleash the economic power of the region and to deepen US economic engagement throughout the Indo-Pacific".

Mr Xi said China would "unswervingly" expand its opening up to the outside world and share China's development opportunities with the region, state broadcaster CCTV said.

With Reuters

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