Opening remarks for the launch of "Economics of Climate Change in East Asia"

Opening remarks by ADB Vice-President Stephen P. Groff on 23 October 2013 in Tokyo, Japan

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of Asian Development Bank, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the “Economics of Climate Change in East Asia”.

This study follows similar studies on Southeast Asia and on the Pacific. The series will conclude with studies on South Asia and Central-West Asia. I wish to thank and acknowledge the Korea International Cooperation Agency for co-financing this important project.

How East Asia addresses the impact of climate change has significant consequences that cross regional and global boundaries. As an export-oriented industrial powerhouse, the East Asia region accounts for roughly 30% of the world’s total energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the last 20 years, global energy-related emissions of greenhouse gases have tracked or exceeded the “A2 high emissions scenario” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- a pattern that seems likely to continue for a decade or more. As a consequence, an increase of 2 degrees Celsius in the global average temperature by 2050 is considered almost unavoidable. Mitigating the effects of climate change is crucial, and all initiatives must include the East Asian region.

As the climate changes, countries will have to adapt to higher temperatures and changed patterns of precipitation. The question is not whether adaptation measures need to be taken but how, and at what cost. Acting now is essential, as any delay will only mean a higher cost in the future.

The transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies will require massive investments. Globally, between now and 2050, developing countries will need an estimated 531 billion dollars per year of additional investment in energy supply and demand technologies if we are to keep below the agreed maximum temperature rise of 2° Centigrade.

According to our new study -- which we are sharing with you today -- annual adaptation costs in East Asia are not likely to exceed 0.3 percent of regional gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050. But adaptation cannot be the only response. The rate of climate change and its costs are expected to accelerate after 2050 if the concentration of greenhouse gases continues to increase. Thus, East Asia must also focus on reducing CO2 emissions by implementing the most efficient abatement options, particularly those which overlap with measures designed to improve local environmental conditions.

Collaboration across the region, among all partners, is crucial. In this regard, I am very pleased that ADB and Japan’s Ministry of Environment have agreed to strengthen our collaboration in environment and climate change. The ministry proposes to provide a 30 million dollar trust fund to ADB to facilitate adoption of advanced low-carbon technologies such as smart grid, waste-to-energy, and electric vehicles though ADB projects.

I would also like to highlight the importance of collaboration in knowledge, such as the strong cooperation between ADB and the ADB Institute in the areas of green growth and environmental studies.

ADB is committed to supporting the region’s efforts to address climate change, and we are making concerted efforts to do more. Our clean energy program, for example has grown from about 600 million dollars per year in 2005 to about 2.3 billion dollars per year in 2012. And last year, ADB committed up to 100 million dollars for a “Climate Public-Private Partnership Fund”. The Fund will allow ADB to invest equity in alternative energy generation, resource efficiency projects, and nature-based assets and environmental services in ADB’s developing member countries.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the three editors of the study, the country teams, and all others who have contributed -- including more than 10 leading universities and think tanks from East Asia, United States, and Europe. We hope the study will serve to enhance the region’s knowledge on climate change and promote real, viable solutions.

Thank you.