Establishing the Basis for Green and Low-carbon Development in Asia - Rajat M. Nag

Speech | 22 June 2011

Opening remarks by ADB Managing Director General Rajat M. Nag at the High-level International Conference on Climate Change and Green, Low-carbon Development on June 22, 2011 in China World Hotel, Beijing, People's Republic of China

I. Introduction

Vice Chairman Xie Zenhua, Director General Su Wei, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for inviting me to join you here today for the opening of this important conference.

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is an appropriate venue for discussion of green and low-carbon development, since the country has such a crucial role to play in helping establish new and sustainable patterns of resource use for Asia and the rest of the world.

Despite recent remarkable gains in Asia's economic prosperity, the need for continued economic expansion remains clear. The key questions are: how will this be achieved, and at what environmental cost? We need to know how Asia will meet its energy needs, manage its rapid urbanization, and sustain its natural resources for future generations.

Helping to find solutions to such challenges is a core function of my organization. And determining the answers to these questions is essential to our collective sustainable future.

II. The Green and Low-Carbon Development Challenge in Asia

Like the rest of the world, Asia must fundamentally change the way it grows. This is especially true for some key sectors, such as energy, transport, urban development, land use, and agriculture. All must be transformed even as they continue to expand – moving to a path that is less polluting both locally and globally.

To keep these opening remarks short, I will focus on just one sector – energy – because in many ways our success in making this transition relies heavily on our achieving radical shifts in the way energy is produced and consumed.

This will not be easy or cheap. Asia's growing economies are energy hungry. Over the past 30 years, energy consumption in the region has grown by 230%! The vast majority of electricity supplies and transport fuels still come from the burning of fossil fuels – which is why Asia as a region is the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The International Energy Agency estimates that a business as usual scenario will require trillions of dollars of investment over the next 20 years just to keep pace with this rising demand. Clearly, enormous changes must take place to see that renewable energy sources occupy a dominant share of the energy mix and energy demands are kept in check through huge improvements in energy efficiency and shifts in consumption patterns.

Asia can lead the way globally, and in some respects it already is doing so. Here in PRC, we see billions of dollars of domestic investment going into expansion of alternative energy sources and other efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of economic production. This is a cornerstone of the new 12th Five Year Plan.

Likewise, as PRC continues to rebalance its economy towards greater reliance on domestic consumption, it will be important to ensure that new standards are set for a low carbon footprint of the goods and services offered in the market. Hundreds of millions of new refrigerators, air conditioners, cars and other consumer goods to be purchased as well as new services provided should meet energy efficiency standards.

III. ADB as Partner

We at ADB are pleased to be supporting this necessary transition across the region. Here in PRC, we are supporting innovative energy technologies that are essential to meet its ambitious national target on reducing carbon intensity and support the global fight against the climate change.

Among our recent activities are financing for PRC's first 250 megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Power Plant at Tianjin, which could facilitate carbon capture and sequestration technology at the same time. We are also supporting large-scale energy efficiency projects at Guangdong, and are preparing similar projects in the energy intensive provinces of Shandong and Hebei.

Our non-lending activities are aligned closely to analyzing issues, barriers and opportunities in key emerging technologies. We are helping to develop carbon capture and storage applications on fossil fuel power plants, expand the coverage of smart grids to enable larger renewable energy share in the energy mix, and build capacity for a domestic CO2 emissions trading scheme.

And these are only a few examples of our many joint efforts to decouple economic growth from the expansion of greenhouse gas emissions.

IV. Closing

Such initiatives will be the topics of your discussions over the next few days. We look forward to learning of the outcomes from this dialogue and incorporating the insights into our support to developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Thank you again. I wish you well in your deliberations, and success in promoting green and low-carbon development in PRC and around the world.