USA • ENVIRONMENT At the first Group of Eight summit to focus on energy since 1998 energy ministers in Detroit have heard that energy challenges will become more acute over the next 20 years in the face of increasing demand that must be balanced with environmental protection. Spencer Abraham, US Energy Secretary, told delegates that the need for free trade and liberalised policies for private investment was vital to meet the growing demand for energy. The summit stressed that the G8 countries must work together to solve energy problems and placed emphasis on opening up and expanding energy trade and investment as ways for nations to co-operate. To accommodate the projected US increase in electricity demand, for example, more than one power plant per week will have to be built, Abraham said, adding that over the next two decades world oil consumption is set to increase from about 75 million barrels per day in 1999 to roughly 120 million barrels per day.