MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu cope with high fuel prices and climate change by providing assistance to help reduce wasteful consumption of commercial energy and promote energy efficiency.

The Clean Energy Fund, which is administered by ADB under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility (CEFPF), will provide $1.2 million in technical assistance to the project. The multi-donor Clean Energy Fund is contributed by the governments of Australia and Norway. The participating countries will each contribute $100,000 to complete the project financing.

High fuel and electricity prices have placed a mounting strain on the Pacific economies, affecting the poor and disadvantaged groups. The effects of global warming have put the island-nations at risk of more devastating typhoons and rising sea levels.

"The focus of ADB's assistance will be on improving the efficiency of energy consumption, rather than developing new sources of renewable energy, as a principal means of reducing the costs and the economic and environmental risks of tapping primary commercial energy supplies," said Indu Bhushan, Director of ADB's Pacific Department.

ADB will help the countries establish the right policy and regulatory environment, as well as improve the capacity of the government and private sector to deal with the issues of energy efficiency.

In a consultation conducted in 2007 on behalf of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Pacific Alliance for Sustainability, the five countries expressed keen interest and assigned high priority to reducing their consumption of fossil fuels.

The grant will address the constraints on increasing energy efficiency, design an appropriate energy-saving project for each country, and identify a strategy for raising awareness and educating the public about energy efficiency.