Environmental Issues, Climate Changes, and Energy Security in Developing Asia

Date: June 2014
Type: Papers and Briefs
Series: Economics Working Papers
ISSN: 1655-5252 (print)
Author: Sovacool, Benjamin K.


Four environmental dimensions of energy security—climate change, air pollution, water availability and quality, and land-use change—and the environmental impact of 13 energy systems on each are discussed in this paper. Climate change threatens more land, people, and economies in Asia and small Pacific island states than any other part of the planet.

Air pollution takes a substantial toll on national health-care expenditures and economies in general. Of the 18 megacities worldwide with severe levels of total suspended particulate matter emissions, 10 are in Asia.

Regarding water availability and quality, hydropower, nuclear power, and thermal power account for 10% to 15% of global water consumption, and the volume of water evaporated from reservoirs exceeds the combined freshwater needs of industry and domestic consumption.

In the domain of climate change, rising sea levels could contaminate freshwater aquifers possibly reducing potable water supplies by 45%. Changes in land use for fuelwood collection and biofuel production in Southeast Asia have resulted in deforestation at 5 times the global average and 10 times the average for the rest of Asia.

Policy makers must begin to incorporate the cost of these negative consequences into energy prices.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Climate Change
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Quality and Availability
  • Land-Use Change
  • Environmental Impact of Energy Technology Options
  • Conclusions
  • References