Ministers from mostly oil importing countries meet to talk clean energy

Seoul (Platts)--12 May 2014 626 am EDT/1026 GMT

Energy ministers and senior energy officials from 24 countries, including Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, are meeting in Seoul for two days to discuss how to reduce fossil oil consumption and promote renewable resources.

"The transition to a world powered by clean energy has the potential to not only significantly reduce carbon pollution and reduce the risk of climate change, but to also create entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs," Yoon Sang-Jick, South Korea's minister for trade, industry and energy, said Monday in opening remarks of the annual Clean Energy Ministerial.

Other representatives came from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and Japan.

CEM is a US-led voluntary global forum of energy ministers from 23 governments with the aim of accelerating the world's clean energy transition. Members are mostly oil importers.

Saudi Arabia is not a member of the group, but Naimi asked to participate as an observer for the first time this year, the South Korean ministry said. The meeting has been held annually since 2010.

"Participants are focusing their discussions on examining reasons for declining global investment in clean energy and how to cope with it," Kim Jun-Dong, South Korea's deputy minister of energy and resources policy at the ministry, told Platts.

Global investment in clean energy fell to $25.4 billion last year from $28.6 billion in 2012 and $31.8 billion in 2011, he said.

"Another main agenda item for this meeting is how to foster markets for clean energy sources, such as solar and wind, so as to create jobs," Kim said.

During Monday's session, South Korea called for lowering trade barriers on products and services related to renewable energy, a ministry official said.

"Clean energy products must have easier access to the markets across the globe," he said.

On the sidelines of the meeting, International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said that the "business-as-usual approach must be overhauled to cope with global shift to electricity that is rivaling oil as the dominant energy carrier."

"Electricity is going to play a defining role in the first half of this century as the energy carrier that increasingly power economic growth and development," van der Hoeven told reporters during a press conference. "While this offers many opportunities, it does not solve all out problems; indeed, it creates many new challenges."

--Charles Lee,

--Edited by Meghan Gordon,

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