Opening Remarks: 9th Asia Clean Energy Forum

Opening remarks by ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bindu N. Lohani at the 9th Asia Clean Energy Forum on 18 June 2014 in Manila, Philippines

(as drafted)


Your Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Welcome to the 9th Asia Clean Energy Forum. I would like to recognize and thank our long-time partner, USAID, represented by Mr. Bob Ichord, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State, as our new partners: the World Energy Council, represented by Secretary General Christoph Frei and the International Renewable Energy Agency, represented by Director-General Adnan Amin. We are grateful to these organizations for their support and enthusiasm in making this forum a remarkable event.

Two years ago, we proposed to establish an ACEF community to champion working together, sharing experiences, and increasing awareness about “how to do things.” During this forum, we will see the success of that initiative, with the caliber and diversity of professionals, the most impressive group I have seen in ACEF.

The Asia Clean Energy Forum has become known for its thought-provoking speakers. This year’s forum is no exception. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute, and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was to be here, but his flight delayed. Nonetheless, he will share the findings from the latest IPCC report as well as his thoughts about climate change implications on energy.

And we have Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, whom many of you know for his numerous leadership roles at the United Nations, will be launching ADB as a regional hub for the global Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, or “SE4All,” as it is known.

Additionally, we will hear from several energy ministers in ACEF’s first Ministerial Roundtable. They will provide their perspectives on the state of their countries’ energy policies, and their visions for how these can be shaped to support sustainable energy systems.

The Energy Trilemma

We are here, of course, to share insights on the pathway we can take toward a clean energy future. Establishing this pathway is critical in the face of the “energy trilemma.” This trilemma is expressed in different ways by different experts. But it essentially boils down to three competing objectives for energy production, all of which need to be achieved, and they are energy security, energy equity and affordability, and environmental sustainability.

This puts us in a challenging spot. Achieving all three aspects satisfactorily is complex. For many of ADB’s developing member countries, policies prioritize energy security becomes the most important and a priority policy to meet the various energy needs and for economic growth.

Last year we published Asian Energy Outlook. The Study makes some sobering predictions. First, this region’s energy demand will more than double by 2035, with coal projected to meet most of this increase. Carbon dioxide emissions will almost double from 13 billion tons in 2010 to 22 billion tons in 2035. Additionally, a huge investment of $11.7 trillion will be required for building energy-related infrastructure.

And yet the majority of the world’s “energy poor” are living in Asia and the Pacific. More than 600 million people do not have access to electricity, and more than 1.8 billion do not have access to modern fuels. Many policies for increasing energy security still rely on using more fossil fuels, but using this approach to solving the trilemma triggers issues with equity and the environment.

Powering Asia with fossil fuels has reached its environmental and financial limits. I think that there is still hope to change the current scenario. By implementing the right clean energy policies and adopting the right technologies, we can move towards addressing the energy trilemma. Energy efficiency and renewable energy offer two very positive approaches for tackling this trilemma.

On Energy Efficiency, the potential for energy savings in Asia and the Pacific is vast, as the region has yet to implement even the lowest hanging fruit of energy efficiency applications. We must ask ourselves why these simple measures are not being implemented and take action. On Renewable and Clean Energy, Asia and the Pacific remains an attractive place. Over half of the world’s clean energy investments are being made here. The right combination of policy and regulation can attract private investment. In 2013, the PRC attracted 30% of the world’s clean energy investments. India is not far behind, and Southeast Asia has recently made much progress.

Hence, clean energy solutions are addressing the energy trilemma, achieving energy security while still addressing environmental concerns and, increasingly, socially and economically affordable energy access.

ADB and Clean Energy

The Mid-term Review of Strategy 2020 will guide ADB until 2020. For ADB to do better, suggestions include

  • strengthening clean energy and climate financing
  • continuing to invest $2 billion annually for clean energy
  • increasing support for sustainable transport (in Rio+20, $175 billion will be spent by 8 MFIs for the next 10 years (2012-2021))
  • strengthening assistance for climate change adaptation, including integrating them into project financing; one initiative is Asia-Pacific

Technology Finance Center

This 23 year-old building uses clean energy (i.e., 573 kilowatt solar rooftop and purchase of electricity from a geothermal power plant). This building is also LEED-certified and ISO 14000.

Our Focus on Finance ++

ADB has importantly implemented what we call Finance ++. The first plus is leverage, or cofinancing, and the second plus is knowledge. This approach recognizes the potential of using ADB funds as leverage for additional cofinancing for projects, including private sector participation. The approach also promotes technology and knowledge sharing of best practices to enable our developing member countries to achieve targets more smartly and efficiently. Equally important is ++Finance where knowledge can be leveraged to provide financing certainly needed in addressing clean energy and climate change.


In closing, we will all need to ask a simple question: What more can we do? The roundtable, the forum’s sessions, and the “deep-dive” technical workshops have all been set up to help you answer that question. By connecting policy, technology and finance communities through the Asia Clean Energy Forum, we will be able to find some of the answers. I am sure that every person in this room is already doing his or her part to drive the clean energy agenda. But the question is “What more can we do? Not only more of the same but also new and innovative actions.” May you have a productive, collaborative, and action-oriented forum.

Thank you.