Asia’s share of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions has tripled since 1973 and it is expected to reach 42% by 2030 unless there is a dramatic change in the trend to build new coal power plants and other polluting energy infrastructure across the region.
“As Asia and the Pacific forge ahead, the region’s energy demands will rise enormously. It has been estimated that over $6.4 trillion of investment will be needed for the region’s energy infrastructure by 2030,” Mr. Kuroda said.
“To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, much of this investment would need to flow into clean energy options.”
The seminar, titled Scaling Up Investment for Climate Change, attracted dozens of global warming experts, including the Director General of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri. The seminar was held at ADB’s 41st Annual Meeting in Madrid, Spain.
Asia-Pacific is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Some 1.2 billion people could experience freshwater shortages by 2020, while crop yields in Central and South Asia could drop by half between now and 2050. Asia’s major coastal cities, including Bangkok, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Mumbai, and Shanghai are vulnerable to flooding. Within this century, residents of Tuvalu, the Maldives and coastal Bangladesh may become “climate refugees.”
The worldwide clean energy sector is already attracting significant investments – about $148 billion last year – but much of that is being used in Europe and other developed regions, while relatively little is reaching Asia because of a lack of supportive government policies and legislation. Policymakers have a critical role to play in establishing the right regulatory, policy and institutional frameworks needed to attract investment at the scale required.
Existing schemes, like the Clean Development Mechanism, need to be improved so that they work in financing new projects in developing countries in Asia as well as other parts of the world. New policies that put a price on carbon, whether in the form of a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, need to be adopted in time for the post-2012 period, when the Kyoto Protocol Treaty expires.
More partnerships are needed that can pool technical and financial resources to address mitigation and adaptation. New incentive schemes are needed to attract private sector capital into climate change investments.
New investments are also needed to help developing countries adapt to the damaging impacts climate change is expected to have in the Asia-Pacific region.
“More extensive adaptation than is currently occurring is required to reduce vulnerability to future climate change. Comprehensive estimates of adaptation costs and benefits are still needed. For a one-meter sea level rise, global protection costs could amount to $1 trillion,” Dr. Pachauri said.