(As drafted)

Opening Remarks at the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2015 by Bindu Lohani, Vice President, Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank on 17 June 2015 at ADB Headquarters, Manila, Philippines

I. Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to ADB and welcome to the 2015 Asia Clean Energy Forum. I would like to welcome the Forum’s co-organizers, USAID, the World Energy Council, and the Korean Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO).

Let me especially thank:
- Robin Dunnigan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy from the U.S. Department of State,
- David Kim, Co-Chair of the World Energy Council, and
- Byung Choon Park, a Director General from the Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO).
Let me also thank our keynote speakers,
- Energy Minister from Nepal,Honorable Radha Kumari Gyawali,
- Yvo de Boer ,Director General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), and
- Dr. Ja-Kyun Koo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, LSIS.
I am particularly looking forward to hearing their thoughts on the future of sustainable energy.

II. The challenge of the next decade of energy

  • This is our tenth Asia Clean Energy Forum – ten years of the Forum’s own progression and evolution alongside the development of the clean energy sector both in the region and worldwide.
  • Over just the lifetime of the Forum there have been many amazing achievements in clean energy.
  • But this morning, I would like to look to the future and its challenges.
  • We will be facing these challenges over the next few months, or years, or within the next decade.
  • Hence, we should be preparing for them now.
  • One of ACEF’s valuable attributes is that it helps ADB to steer the conversation of clean energy towards the topics that are most relevant to the participants and those require more thought and attention.

This morning, let me touch upon 3 issues.

The first one is related to a comment that has been brought up again and again.

And that is the Lower Oil Price.

With global oil prices at record lows, we are constantly being asked why we are continuing to support clean energy. And there are even those who are saying that clean energy is not an alternative. The reasoning behind this is that “cheap oil prevents renewable energy from being developed and used.”

This reasoning is not based on long term thinking and needs to be vetted.

We feel that at a time when oil prices are low, policy makers should take advantage of this moment to pursue structural reform.

For oil importers, falling oil price presents an opportunity for governments to eliminate costly fuel subsidies or even raise fuel taxes with minimum disruption to household and business budgets.

Oil exporters may similarly find the time is right to pursue subsidy and tax reform to ease strain on their public finances as well as take steps to diversify their economies. Furthermore, recent history shows that the renewable sector has experienced great development even as coal prices have remained low.

In brief, renewables are becoming competitive and will remain competitive as technology progresses.

This brings up a second issue.

Based on analysis, including ours, here at ADB, coal will remain the dominant energy source in our region for decades into the future.

Our estimates are that by 2035, coal use will grow by fifty percent from 2010 numbers.

The UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative has a target, that 36% of the world’s energy will come from renewables by 2050. Even if we achieve this target, it still leaves another two thirds of energy to be met by fossil fuel, of which coal is dominant.

How can we respond to this future?

Let me put two issues for our discussion:

  1. We should consider rehabilitation and retrofitting of aging power infrastructure such as power plants and transmission and distribution networks. Technologies for better energy efficiencies are commercially available and the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency is not being picked (at least not enough) in Asia.
  2. Where countries consider using coal as appropriate, it must be done with maximum efficiency and use advanced technologies.

Furthermore, from the policy side relating to the climate change agenda, each country is expected to commit a long-term goal to decarbonize economic growth. We will have COP21 soon. Carbon tax and/or carbon pricing are options that may be the possible outcome of the climate talks in Paris later this year and those policies could significantly change the energy mix discussion.

Now I want to talk about the third and the last issue, which is regional cooperation and integration.

The uneven geographic distribution of energy resources between Asian countries presents an opportunity for regional integration. How to reach across borders to strengthen energy security, tap into clean energy resources and reshape the energy sector in Asia and the Pacific, is therefore a key development objective, which can yield significant dividends for individual countries.

Regional cooperation and integration is an important priority agenda of ADB.

We have supported a number of cross-border projects that have been mutually beneficial, from hydropower in the Lower Mekong countries, to energy trading in South Asia. We have also worked on the Central Asia and South Asia such as TAPI gas pipeline project, which covers Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India to promote energy security and economic development in the four countries.

III. Conclusion

Let me now conclude.

We believe that ACEF remains as a valuable forum to gather and share ideas. It is a Forum committed to knowledge sharing on new and innovative ideas. Over this Forum’s lifetime, ADB has significantly increased its investment in clean energy. I hope that this process of change will continue to help us move towards a better, sustainable future.

We had 10 years of successful ACEF. Now we need to make it even more useful, ever more relevant and an innovative forum for sharing knowledge that will lead the actions on the ground. And I am certain the forum will meet such an expectation.

Thank you.

Speaker

  • Lohani, Bindu N.
    Former Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development
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