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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Leaders Discuss Green Energy at East Asian Summit

CEBU, Philippines -- Leaders from 16 Asian nations, representing half the world's population, pledged Monday to develop alternative energy supplies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement capped a week of high-level meetings on the Philippine resort island of Cebu that waded into issues as diverse as disease, disaster, trade and terrorism.

Southeast Asian leaders along with the heads of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand held their second East Asia summit in a more purposeful manner after last year's inaugural meeting.

Beijing and Tokyo used the forum sponsored by the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN to mend ties further.

The 16 leaders on Monday urged North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and respond to humanitarian concerns, including abductions of Japanese citizens in previous decades.

But while Northeast Asian diplomacy featured at the summit, its centerpiece was an Energy Security pact that sought to reduce the region's dependence on costly imported crude and help stave off climate change.

Most of the goals in the pact are vague or voluntary, however, and the leaders, some of whom represent the most polluted countries on the planet, offered no concrete targets.

Heavy emphasis was put on promoting biofuels that use plantation crops such as sugar or palm oil as feed stock, not surprising since these are huge export commodities in Southeast Asia.

There is no doubt about the magnitude of the problem facing these countries. Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to triple in Southeast Asia by 2030, while demand for energy will double during that period, according to ASEAN data.

After the Summit, New Zealand's prime minister told reporters Japan should be granted a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, but without veto power if the top UN body were expanded.

(Reuters, AP)