Asia is climate change front line, radical steps needed: ADB president
ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said Wednesday that this investment will meet growing energy demand in developing Asian countries while at the same time mitigate the impact of climate change.
"Asians have more to lose from climate change than any other people. The climate fight will be won or lost by decisions made in this region," Kuroda said in a speech delivered at the opening of the 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) in Manila.
"An important key to lowering energy intensity is the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and transition to renewable energy. Asia must also take radical steps to increase energy efficiency," he said.
Asia is home to some of the world's fastest growing economies. Rising prosperity combined with an increasing population has also spiked demand for energy. It's estimated that energy requirements in the region will double by 2030. If left unchecked, the ADB said lack of energy security may reverse the region's hard-won gains in poverty reduction.
"Clean energy has gone from being thought of as alternative energy to being embraced by mainstream thinking. Today, the concepts of green growth and a green economy, with clean energy at the heart of development, are being adopted widely, including the Asia and Pacific region," Kuroda said.
"We are pleased to see that many developing Asian countries are now adopting a variety of clean energy initiatives. These will support a massive transition to inclusive growth and environmentally sustainable development... emissions will only continue to grow, unless swift and decisive action is taken to green Asia's economies and promote inclusive growth," he told the delegates.
To accelerate the transition to a clean energy regime, the ADB has launched the Asia Climate Change and Clean Energy Venture Capital Initiative through which it is injecting USD60 million into three venture capital funds that will provide early-stage financing support for new climate technology products.
"Our investment in these funds should leverage over USD400 million from bilateral sources and institutional investors for promising start-ups. This early-stage support will help new low-carbon technologies become more competitive and affordable to the large consumer base in developing Asia," Kuroda said.
Dependence on fossil fuel-based power sources is also increasing the threat of climate change. A warmer planet, which brings more natural disasters, will hurt Asia's poor most.
The Manila-based lender said that to meet the rising demand for energy and improve the lives of 800 million people in Asia with no access to electricity, Asian governments have to implement policies on renewable energy development and fast track new business models.
Focus on solar
An example of more direct support to technology is ADB's Asia Solar Energy Initiative, which aims to help build a USD9 billion, 3,000-megawatt portfolio of solar power in the region over the next three years.
"We are planning to establish the Asia Accelerated Solar Energy Development Fund to attract the needed investment. By providing an enabling environment for commercial lending and private investment in the solar energy market, we hope to encourage its rapid growth and bring solar energy nearer to grid parity," Kuroda said.
"This pilot regional hub will address the issues of deploying climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation and attracting the necessary volume of financing that would enable Asia and the Pacific to shift to sustainable infrastructure development," Kuroda said.