Why Asia and the Pacific Need to Scale Up Energy Efficiency Investments
Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, discusses the need for clean energy investments and greater energy efficiency to help Asia meet its rising power needs
and fuel economic growth.
Q: How can Asia meet its growing energy needs to fuel economic growth while ensuring the environment is not harmed?
A: Our estimate is by 2050, 52% of the global economy… could be in Asia. And therefore the energy need of Asia will grow. It is estimated that up to 56% of the global energy consumption could be in Asia [by 2035]. And if that’s going to be all fossil fuel, it’s going to contribute to climate change issues. And Asia cannot afford to do that because those will have an impact on Asia itself. I think Asia needs to therefore go and look into the options of renewable energy, energy efficiencies, among others. Frankly, Asia is already doing that, but it needs to do more. And some of the studies we’ve done show that it’s very economically attractive. For example, if you invest about 4% in the energy sector, in energy efficiency, one would be able to avoid the 25% increase in energy consumption by 2030. And these are very attractive proposals, which Asia should take into account and move the agenda forward.
Q: How can ADB help countries improve their energy efficiency?
A: Clean energy is a strong program at the Asian Development Bank. We do annually about more than US$2 billion. Energy efficiency is an integral part of that. I think we need to promote energy efficiency further. Maybe bring the lending to about a billion a year. I know this is nowhere near the need of the region as a whole but ADB has to sow innovation, creativity, demonstration… Countries would then be able to take it from there. In addition to that, we also need to encourage policy and awareness program, capacity building program. For example, the fuel subsidy today is huge. If the government would look into this very carefully… They need to build a strong awareness program among the people so that people would be able to save energy, conserve energy for something that they don’t need to waste. And build institutions which are strong enough to be able to do that. And ADB certainly in my opinion has a strong role to play to help out member countries.