Clean Technologies Could Cut South Asia Emissions by a Fifth by 2020 at Little Cost

News Release | 6 March 2013

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Five countries of South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka - could slash greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 at little long-term cost by introducing a variety of clean technologies, according to a new study from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

"The livelihoods of more than 200 million people in these five countries are threatened by the rapid loss of snow cover in the Himalayas and rising sea levels," said Mahfuz Ahmed, Principal Climate Change Specialist with ADB's South Asia Department. "It is possible to slash greenhouse gas emissions through big and small changes that would have little or no long-term cost to the end users."

Annual energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the five countries are together set to rise from 58 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005 to 245 million in 2030, according to The Economics of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in South Asia. It shows primary energy use in the five South Asian nations by 2030 is likely to be almost 3,600 petajoules, 2.4 times higher than in 2005, largely due to rising consumption from industry and transport.

Clean, low-cost technologies include replacing fossil fuel generation with renewable or cleaner energy such as solid waste or gas; upgrading to more fuel-efficient technology; or using greener products, such as solar cookstoves, electric or more efficient diesel vehicles, or biodiesel fishing vessels. The introduction of these large and small-scale green technologies costing up to $10 per ton of greenhouse house gas emissions could cut 27.9 million tons - or 20% - off of 2020's projected energy-related annual emissions of 125.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

To do that, however, countries must overcome a number of challenges, including making sure information, financing, and incentives are available to encourage users to shift to cleaner technologies. Direct and indirect fuel subsidies should be phased out or made more targeted, the study says. Meanwhile, ministries and countries should work more closely together to better plan and develop cross-border energy markets and promote green development.

In addition, introducing a carbon tax that rises along with the global carbon price could slash greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth in 2030 in the five countries.

India, the biggest energy consumer and largest generator of greenhouse gases in the region, though not covered by the study, will increase its energy consumption to about 63,000 petajoules in 2030, an increase of more than five times from 2005, the study says.