Introductory remarks by Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, at the opening plenary session of the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2021, 15 June 2021
Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed colleagues in the clean energy sector, welcome to the 16th Asia Clean Energy Forum.
Once again, we are holding a virtual forum as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. But meet we must, especially as this is a critical time in the global fight against climate change.
This November, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will hold its 26th Conference of Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow. COP26 will firm up more ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2030, with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. The energy sector will play a decisive role in this effort.
Accelerating the low-carbon transition
I am happy to note that this year, ACEF’s theme of Accelerating the Low-Carbon Transition in Asia and the Pacific fully aligns with the COP26 agenda—as well as the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, and ADB’s own Strategy 2030, which institutionalized ADB’s climate efforts where the energy sector has a vital role.
2020 Clean energy investments
In the past year, clean energy investments made up almost half of ADB energy sector lending. Clean energy investments doubled from $1.0 billion in 2019 to $1.9 billion in 2020, which comprised 57% energy efficiency and 43% renewable energy. Clean energy investments in 2020 are expected to boost electricity generation capacity by 3.4 gigawatts, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 7 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. ADB’s efforts in the energy sector has provided energy access to an additional 10.3 million households in 2020.
Moving forward, we hope that our discussions here at ACEF will further ADB’s clean energy advocacies, and add momentum to the global effort to mitigate and adapt to climate change, while promoting sustainable development.
ACEF 2021 activities
So, what can we expect in this year’s ACEF?
At this opening session, we will hear ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa’s Welcome Remarks along with keynote messages of COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma and US Agency for International Development Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia Karen Freeman. Afterwards, we will move on to a panel discussion. Along with these exciting activities, our agenda includes spotlight sessions that focus on clean energy innovations. There will also be deep-dive workshops on various aspects of clean energy—such as business models, technologies, financing and regulatory policies. These are in addition to the regional sessions on sharing lessons learned from our ADB Operations.
The Forum will also examine how the public and private sectors can work together to pursue cross-sectoral initiatives that benefit the society, particularly the poor. These include how to support solar-powered water pumps to help farmers irrigate their fields, or how to help poor families access clean energy. In this regard, freeing up women’s time through better access to clean energy in particular can contribute to increasing their income significantly.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
At this point, allow me to describe the two thematic tracks of this Forum to provide a sharper focus for our discussions.
ACEF track 1
The first track is “Tracing Future Paths with Technology Roadmaps for Nationally Determined Contributions,” or NDCs.
To help countries attain their NDCs, our discussions on this first track will focus on how to develop technology roadmaps that will guide their transition to clean energy. For this purpose, we must consider not only the existing technologies, but also those emerging and potentially game-changing technologies that can allow countries to achieve their more ambitious targets. For instance, carbon capture utilization and storage, hydrogen, storages and charging stations, and smart grid systems.
These technology roadmaps must balance the triple goals of economic growth, poverty reduction, and climate action. The shift to clean energy must achieve both carbon neutrality and sustainable development that lifts people out of poverty. And critically, it must attract the financial support of the private sector to address the huge investment requirements.
ACEF track 2
The second track will tackle how to “Rebound from COVID-19 using Integrated Solutions.” Here, we will examine the impact the pandemic has had on economies, the energy sector, and the environment. Based on that, we will explore the opportunities and options for combining economic recovery with a transition to clean energy.
One challenge we face is that COVID-19’s impact has been very uneven on different economic and social sectors. Left to itself, the recovery process will put different socioeconomic groups on divergent paths. In terms of the sectors, we are already seeing clear indications that some, such as technology, digital financial services, and online retail e-commerce are thriving, while others are hit severely, travel and tourism being the most obvious. We are also seeing risks of vulnerable groups being left behind in the recovery, what we call “K-shape” recovery. So, we must make a conscious effort to assist the poor and the disadvantaged groups, including providing them access to reliable and affordable clean energy.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, our agenda for this 16th ACEF presents us an opportunity to make a difference – and help speed-up the low-carbon transition in the region.
Energy policy consultations
For ADB, this ACEF is also very timely, because we are currently holding a series of consultations with many different stakeholders as part of the process of reviewing our energy policy. This is a very important exercise for setting ADB’s strategic course in this important sector, and discussions in the ACEF’s thematic discussions will, no doubt, give invaluable insights to inform our review.
I look forward to your participation in the discussions and urge you all to generously share your knowledge, experience and insights.
Once again, thank you for joining the 2021 Asia Clean Energy Forum!