East Asia - "Winds of Change: East Asia's Sustainable Energy Future"

EAST Asia can stabilise its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 without sacrificing growth, a new World Bank report says.

But, the report warns, the region would need an additional investment of $80 billion a year, a figure it refers to as a "major hurdle", to reach a sustainable energy growth path.

The report, "Winds of Change: East Asia's Sustainable Energy Future," states that major investments in energy efficiency and a switch to renewable power would also boost energy security and improve the local environment. The report covers China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

"What is required is a paradigm shift to a new low-carbon development model with sustainable lifestyles," said Jim Adams, World Bank vice president for the East Asia and Pacific Region in a statement.

"Countries need to act now to transform the energy sector toward much higher energy efficiency and widespread deployment of low-carbon technologies," Adams said.

Energy consumption in the region has tripled in the last three decades because of a tenfold rise in gross domestic product. By 2030, energy consumption is expected to double yet again as the urban population increases by 50 percent and industrialization continues.

The report calls for governments of the six countries to act immediately to transform their energy sectors into higher efficiency, with more extensive use of clean energy "before it's too late."

"The window of opportunity is closing fast as delaying action would lock the region into long-lasting, high-carbon infrastructure," warns the report.

Pointing out that almost half of the region's energy infrastructure needed by 2020 has yet to be built, the report's authors suggest a mix of energy pricing reforms, regulations such as economy-wide energy intensity targets as well as financial incentives to achieve the region's "huge" energy efficiency potential.

The report also recommends increasing renewable energy so that it meets a major proportion of power demand by 2030, noting that China, the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is already the world's largest producer of renewable energy.

Comparing a business-as-usual scenario with one aimed at moving to a sustainable energy path, the World Bank report warns that without the switch, a doubling of energy needs in the next 20 years would result in heavier consumption of fossil fuels, higher levels of air pollution and environmental deterioration.

The report calls for support from the international community, saying that "substantial" concessional financing is needed to cover extra costs and risks of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"Developing countries cannot do it alone," the report concluded.

Tuesday 20th April 2010

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