Asia's emissions-reduction plan for the world

(Eco Business, 21 Jan 2022) How will Asia's energy transition mechanism — potentially the world’s largest CO2 reduction programme — phase-out coal in the energy-hungry region?

World leaders came together in Glasgow last November to map out a path to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. But while the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) was undoubtedly a historic moment, most countries are just beginning their work to meet new goals to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

That is why the announcement by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Indonesian and Philippine governments at COP26 stood out. In launching our partnership for a pilot Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM), we were not making a vague commitment to achieve a distant goal. Instead, we jointly formulated a concrete plan for an equitable, scalable, affordable, and just energy initiative to help Asian countries retire or repurpose half of their coal-fired power plants and increase their reliance on clean energy. The ETM is a transformative climate scheme that has the potential to become the world’s largest CO2 reduction program.

The ETM will take a financial approach to retiring or repurposing coal-fired power plants ahead of schedule, while scaling up investments in clean energy. This dual strategy will benefit communities, investors, regional economies, and the environment.

Although clean-energy costs are declining rapidly in many countries, many coal-fired electricity plants operate under secure, long-term purchase agreements. And in Asia, those facilities are younger: the region is home to 90% of all coal-fired power plants under 20 years old. Without a policy intervention, those plants are unlikely to be retired in the near term. Every year they remain active will result in more CO2 emissions and crowd out demand for clean, renewable energy.

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Eco Business, 21 Jan 2022: Asia's emissions-reduction plan for the world