Covid-19: Can Asean make sustainable recovery a reality?

(Eco Business, 21 Nov 2020) Southeast Asia's stimulus spending up until July demonstrated a ‘dismal’ commitment to decarbonisation. Can the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, adopted last week, steer the region towards a green recovery?

Last December, before the world had heard of a highly disruptive virus called Covid-19, the European Union (EU) adopted the Green Deal for the 27-nation bloc to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

As Covid-19 swept across the world, upending daily routines and halting economic activity, the EU doubled down on its commitment towards sustainability. It unveiled a €750 billion (US$888 billion) recovery proposal on May 27, which set aside roughly a quarter of the stimulus dollars for earth-friendly measures such as retrofitting of old buildings and clean energy investments.

The proposal was held up as an example of “building back better” by sustainable development experts, although some environmentalists were not satisfied with its principle to do no harm and said money could still be spent on fossil fuel industries.

Last week, after spending much of the year battling the pandemic’s fallout, Southeast Asian leaders gathered virtually for the 37thAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit hosted by Vietnam. What emerged from the meeting was nothing as dramatic as a green recovery package, but there were positive signs amid a continued focus on lives and livelihoods.

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Eco Business, 21 Nov 2020: Covid-19: Can Asean make sustainable recovery a reality?