At the Asia Pacific economic forum in Manila Wednesday, President Barack Obama promoted clean energy technology to boost global growth while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered cheap oil and gas.
During the APEC leaders’ summit, Obama made an economic pitch for regional governments to support a strong global agreement at the upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris to reduce dependence on carbon based fuels that contribute to global warming.
“If we can get an agreement done, it could drive new jobs and opportunities, and investment in a global economy that, frankly, needs a boost right now,” Obama said.
The American president noted that climate change threatens the economies of the 21 APEC nations that account for 60 percent of global output and nearly half of world trade.
Low lying islands in the Pacific are increasingly vulnerable to flooding and land loss due to rising sea levels and the APEC host nation the Philippines lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars to repair damage after it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan two years ago.
“We know that no single weather event is necessarily caused by climate change alone. But the patterns and the science don’t lie, temperatures and sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms are strengthening,” Obama said.
In the U.S., Obama’s longstanding support for green technology development to spark economic growth has faced opposition from Republican critics. Strict climate change regulations imposed by the Obama administration they argue increases manufacturing costs and make American companies less competitive.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, right, listen during a ABAC dialogue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2015.
In contrast to Obama’s call for increasing investments in clean energy, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in his remarks made a more direct pitch to sell more oil and gas to the region.
“Russia has great resources and it is geographically close. That is why we can provide stable, long term deliveries and the prices are competitive,” said Medvedev.
The Russian Prime Minister said APEC countries can take advantage of the current low global oil and gas prices due to the stagnant world economy and the dropping value of the ruble to fuel economic growth by reducing production costs immediately.
Medvedev also said the weaker ruble will make Russia's grain exports cheaper. He predicted that Russian grain exports will climb to 35-40 million tons by 2020.
China’s President Xi Jinping mentioned China’s efforts to cope with climate change during his remarks at APEC. But to boost economic growth Xi advocated for increased structural reforms and building closer regional economic ties including the development of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), a multilateral free trade pact that is seen by many as a China led revival to the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP.)