Asia needs climate money and reforms to fuel green transition, says COP26 chief

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February 18, 2022

SINGAPORE – Asia is key to the global transition to a greener, climate-friendly economy and there is a “wall of money” available to countries in the region to help them invest in renewable energy, transport and energy. cleaner industry, says the UK official who led the climate talks at last year’s COP26 in Glasgow.

But to achieve this, countries in the region will also need to adopt reforms to their energy systems and commit to more ambitious climate goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s main climate pact, said Mr. Alok Sharma, President of COP26 and a British cabinet. Minister.

Sharma, who is helping coordinate global climate diplomacy with Egypt ahead of November’s COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, visited Indonesia and Vietnam this week to discuss how the two countries can accelerate their efforts to move away from fossil fuels and accelerate renewable energy. investment.

“Asia’s green energy transition is going to be absolutely vital, part of achieving a net-zero world,” Sharma told the Straits Times in Jakarta on Thursday, February 17, referring to a key goal of the deal. of Paris to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 if the world is to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

But he said it was “really a race against time” if net-zero emissions could be achieved to maintain the 1.5C target, given the planet’s huge dependence to fossil fuels and rising temperatures that fuel more severe climate impacts. Scientists say exceeding 1.5°C of warming will lead to a deadlier and more costly future.

Developing countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam need help from wealthier countries to accelerate this green transition, he said.

“I would say there is literally a wall of money that wants to invest in green projects in developing countries.”

He highlighted the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero launched in April 2021, which brings together over 450 financial firms in 45 countries responsible for assets of over US$130 trillion (S$175 trillion) that aim to accelerate the transition. green.

COP26 provided a model that could help Indonesia and Vietnam, he said. At the Glasgow conference, France, Germany, Britain, the United States and others announced the US$8.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership to support efforts to South Africa to reduce its dependence on dirty coal.

The partnership aims to focus on the South African power system and the initial US$8.5 billion involves grants, loans and concessional investments, as well as risk-sharing instruments, including to engage the private sector.

“I think what has been done in the case of South Africa provides a benchmark for other economies,” Sharma said, adding that it was part of his discussions with Indonesia and Vietnam.

“That’s really the discussion we’re having right now and will be having over the next few weeks and months,” he said.

“But what it will also require is that individual countries that are looking for support to establish very ambitious plans, in terms of reducing emissions, their 2030 NDCs, in terms of regulatory reform in their energy sector in order to that the private sector wants to invest,” he added, referring to national climate plans under the Paris Agreement called Nationally Determined Contributions.

“That’s the message I delivered on this trip to Asia,” Mr. Sharma said. He pointed to Vietnam, which needs investments in its network to be able to include more renewable energy, including substantial investment projects in offshore wind energy.

Mr Sharma said 2022 was critical for global climate efforts and for delivering on the promises made in Glasgow.

“I think there are a lot of things that we surpassed at COP26 that collectively the world can be very proud of. But as I said in Glasgow, while we kept 1.5 in life, the pulse is still weak.The strengthening of the pulse depends entirely on the governments, on the countries that keep the commitments they have made.

This year, countries must step up their 2030 NDCs and ensure that pledges to scale up climate finance help developing countries stay on track, he said.

For example, doubling the money by 2025 helps poorer countries adapt to climate impacts and the certainty that long-promised $100 billion in annual climate finance will be available from 2023.

“I think it’s really important that we show that continuity of purpose that comes out of Glasgow,” he said, adding that he would remain in his role as COP26 President until November in partnership with Egypt.

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