Climate change, Energy, Governance and public sector management

COP27, climate change mitigation, and a just transition for developing Asia

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), held on 6–18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, focused on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and financing while ensuring a “just transition” for developing countries. Delegates at the conference discussed not only global efforts to avoid dangerous levels of global warming but also the work program on the global goal on adaptation, which was established and launched at last year’s COP26. COP27 provided an important opportunity for governments, multilateral development banks, and other international organizations to provide updates on their efforts and announce more ambitious targets, including their nationally determined contributions.

As the source of around half of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Asia’s ability to translate its GHG reduction commitments into action will be instrumental to limiting global warming to 1.5°C required to fight climate change. Climate Change Mitigation: Policies and Lessons for Asia, a new coedited ADBI Press book (Azhgaliyeva and Rahut 2022), provides insights on doing just that across various sectors (Figure 1). The book describes global efforts needed on electrifying the land transport sector and on phasing coal out of power generation. The buildings and agriculture sectors can also help to reduce GHG emissions dramatically by going green.

Figure 1. Shares of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector, 2019

AFOLU = agriculture, forestry, and land use.
Source: Authors’ elaboration using data from Ritchie, Roser, and Rosado (2020).

Solutions for the energy, transport, agriculture, and buildings sectors

The ambitious nationally determined contributions and net-zero carbon targets by around mid-century announced by countries at COP26 last year cannot be met by the energy sector alone—other sectors also need to be decarbonized. Climate Change Mitigation addresses policy and financing imperatives for enhancing mitigation efforts across the transport, buildings, and agriculture sectors, each a significant source of carbon emissions and vital to the sustainable development of the region and achieving climate action targets.

Sector-specific solutions explored in the book include optimizing electricity market design for achieving renewable energy goals with minimal above-market costs, upscaling climate-smart agriculture, phasing out the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles, implementing sustainable cooling, and greening buildings. Carbon pricing is also examined as a solution for emissions reductions across sectors. Sector-specific solutions will be important for limiting the negative impacts on low-income and vulnerable groups and addressing energy security, energy poverty, and food security while ensuring a “just” transition.

Why developing Asia?

Developing Asia and the Pacific will require huge support to meet the region’s nationally determined contributions, improve energy and food security, and reduce energy poverty (which often increases emissions) amid climate disasters.

  • The region’s heavy reliance on fossil fuel consumption presents significant challenges in shifting to clean and renewable energy technologies. Hence, it will require significant investment at a time when countries are experiencing issues related to energy poverty and energy security, and public expenditure in the region is becoming increasingly constrained due to efforts to recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Energy demand will continue to accelerate due to increased economic growth and growing populations. According to the International Energy Agency (2019), developing Asia and the Pacific is expected to account for two-thirds of global energy demand growth by 2040.
  • The region is vulnerable to worsening climate change risks, including rising sea levels, rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, floods, droughts, heat waves, salination, sea inundation, pest and disease infestations, and storms. Asia and the Pacific is one of the most vulnerable regions to the destructive effects of climate change, and the conditions continue to worsen. The climate crisis is putting people’s lives and livelihoods at greater risk and creating new uncertainties for the region’s economies.

Not only climate change mitigation

Although the book is titled Climate Change Mitigation, the solutions covered in the book can help not only climate change mitigation efforts but also provide a number of benefits for developing Asia apart from limiting the global temperature rise and preventing catastrophic climate change.

Solutions for climate change mitigation can help to reduce high pollution in large cities in the region, reduce indoor pollution, and improve energy security. Solving these problems will improve quality of life and increase life expectancy while reducing healthcare expenses. Efforts to reduce GHG emissions can also lead to better energy access and security and make cities more livable.

Conclusion

There is no silver bullet for meeting impactful climate goals in developing Asia. Appropriate policy measures will need to account for variations in sector, geography, climate, and electricity market characteristics. They will also require long-term planning, learning from other countries, and learning-by-doing, especially when preparing the electricity market for a highly renewable world. Climate Change Mitigation spotlights new research on climate imperatives across key sectors and explores the next steps for climate change mitigation in Asia and the Pacific. With breakthroughs in these areas, the region can help lead the way toward achieving measurable progress in the fight against climate change.

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References

Azhgaliyeva, D. and D. B. Rahut, eds. 2022. Climate Change Mitigation: Policies and Lessons for Asia. Tokyo: ADBI.

International Energy Agency. 2019. Material Efficiency in Clean Energy Transitions. Vienna: IEA.

Ritchie, H., M. Roser, and P. Rosado. 2020. CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Dina Azhgaliyeva

About the Author

Dina Azhgaliyeva is a research fellow at ADBI.
Dil Rahut

About the Author

Dil Rahut is vice-chair of research and a senior research fellow at ADBI.
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