The share of developing Asian countries, including the Philippines, in global energy consumption will remain higher than their share of the global economy, Manila-based lender Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) said in a report released this week.
ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department said that developing Asia accounted for a third of global energy consumption in 2010, which under one ADB scenario is projected to rise to 56 percent by 2035, when the region’s share of the world’s gross domestic product is forecast at 44 percent.
Yet, amid surging energy consumption and strong economic growth, 18 percent of developing Asia’s population, nearly 630 million people, still do not have access to electricity, it said.
“The higher start-up costs of many renewable energy resources are raising issues of affordability at a time when governments across Asia are under pressure to keep energy prices from rising,” said Vinod Thomas, director general of Independent Evaluation at ADB.
“Fortunately, the cost of renewables is starting to fall, which is easing tensions between vital environmental objectives and those of an affordable and reliable energy supply. This emerging trend presents countries with an opportunity to step up policies and investments for switching to a low-carbon path,” he said.
The report, on the other hand, said that providing affordable, clean and secure energy will require hard choices between brown and green growth. Asia’s governments are faced with the challenge of choosing energy investments that can provide affordable energy while meeting pressing environmental objectives, especially on climate change.
The report said although some trade-offs are inevitable, these can be reduced by reforms to energy pricing, technological innovation, and access to financing for environmentally sustainable growth.
The report also identified the win-win option of eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, as this would cover a significant portion of the mitigation likely required to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This makes energy a good place to start addressing climate change and environmental sustainability. Developing Asia already accounts for more than 35 percent of global CO2 emissions, and this share is set to increase to 47 percent by 2035, primarily due to energy use. At the same time it remains necessary to blend renewable energy with clean conventional generation, the report said.