Higher energy demand in the Asia-Pacific over the coming decades as income levels rise threatens to outpace improvements in efficiency and renewable energy use in the region and leave it unsustainably dependent on fossil fuels, according to a new regional energy report.
The findings from the Asia-Pacific Energy Research Centre’s latest APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook prompted energy officials from APEC economies convening in Canberra over the last week to take further steps to boost sustainability within the sector needed to strengthen their energy security and fight climate change. They also set the tone for a meeting of APEC Trade Ministers in Arequipa, Peru on 17-18 May to launch complementary actions for building green growth.
The report forecasts a 35 per cent jump in energy consumption in the region by 2040, driven by continued poverty reduction and expansion of the middle class in emerging APEC economies. But 80 percent of demand will still be met by fossil fuels, led by coal, based on current trends.
Under this scenario, more than ten per cent of energy reserves within the 21 APEC economies, the world’s largest energy producers and consumers, will need to be imported from outside APEC by 2040—even with the development of unconventional gas resources. It would also increase the region’s carbon emissions by about a quarter.
“APEC economies are aggressively working to transform the region’s energy paradigm by facilitating greater diversification of their energy mix and higher efficiency standards,” explained Dr Phyllis Yoshida, Chair of the APEC Energy Working Group, which administers regional policy and research collaboration within the sector.
“We aim to double renewable energy in the energy mix in APEC economies by 2030 and reduce their energy intensity 45 per cent by 2035, and are laying a policy foundation to achieve these ambitious goals,” noted Dr Yoshida, who is also a senior official with the United States Energy Department. “The growth and sustainability of our diverse economies will greatly depend on the success of this effort.”
Doubling renewable energy in APEC will require 1,692 gigawatts of additional renewable generation capacity or an average of 100 gigawatts annually, the report estimates. Lower barriers to innovation within the sector are needed to accelerate the establishment of secure and environmentally friendly energy systems that can help to deliver, it adds.
Towards these ends, officials have introduced a new network for city executives to share intelligence on efficiency and renewable energy policy development and adoption, drawing on pilot measures being pursued in a growing number of APEC Low Carbon Model Towns. A parallel service network of companies and research bodies within the sector has also been created to provide implementation support for city-level energy sustainability initiatives.
“A cross-section of cities in the region are serving as a testing ground for green development, guided by industry reform and urban planning recommendations from APEC experts, Dr Yoshida concluded. “Early analyses reveal that inroads are being made but must be sustained and built upon if energy security and deep cuts in emissions are to be realized in the Asia-Pacific in the years ahead.”
Click here to view the APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook 6th Edition
Read how APEC is working to bridge action on climate change and the promotion of trade and economic growth, and demonstrate their potential to become mutually reinforcing here.
APEC’s endorsement of a global target for deploying 10 billion high-efficiency lighting products to boost trade and the fight against climate change is detailed here.
Details on how APEC economies are taking advantage of low oil prices to promote fossil fuel subsidy reform and reduce emissions can be found here.
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