MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Five Pacific nations, which rely heavily on imported diesel for power generation, are expected to reduce their fossil fuel consumption with the help of a technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and its partners.

The ADB Board of Directors recently approved a technical assistance of around $12.4 million under the Promoting Energy Efficiency in the Pacific (Phase 2) to help consumers use power more efficiently in the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

"Paying for imported fossil fuels places a major strain on local economies and trade balances," said Robert Kesterton, Energy Specialist of ADB's Pacific Department. "The volatility and high level of oil-based fossil fuel prices is a threat to the ongoing social, economic, and environmental development and sustainability of these countries."

The financing will help stakeholders gain comprehensive information on energy use by sector and appliance, mainstream energy efficiency programs into government processes and policies, improve the implementation of energy efficiency programs, and raise public awareness on the benefits of energy conservation.

The technical assistance is financed by a $1 million grant from the ADB's Technical Assistance Special Fund; $5.25 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF); $1 million from the Government of Australia, coordinated through the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility; and $1.5 million from the Asian Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF).The participating governments will provide $2.047 million and the power utilities will provide $1.62 million in non-cash contributions.

The GEF unites close to 180 countries in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

The CEFPF was established in 2007 to help improve energy security in developing member countries and decrease the rate of climate change. It will do this by financing the deployment of new, more efficient and less polluting supply and end-use technologies.