Residents in many of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) most polluted cities have been delighted to observe significant decreases in pollution levels as a result of Covid-19 lockdown measures that have disrupted the economy and thus many pollution-causing activities. However, as governments begin lifting restrictions and business activities return, so too will the demand for energy. Economic recovery could see the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions bouncing back very quickly. Indeed, global data from late May shows an all-time high for levels of CO2 as countries start to reopening the economies.

However, with all the tragedy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps there can be a silver-lining in terms of how we navigate Asean’s energy transition if we can embrace renewable energy (RE) and clean technologies. Covid-19 seems to be accelerating the adoption of several pre-pandemic trends like digitalization and robotics. Perhaps decarbonization can be another.

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