Keynote address by Masatsugu Asakawa, ADB President, at the S20 High-Level Policy Webinar on Just Energy Transition, 17 March 2022


Your Excellencies President Joko Widodo and Ministers, ladies and gentlemen:

We have come together today because of our shared belief that bold and urgent action is needed on climate change. I am grateful to the Science20 engagement group of the G20 for hosting this webinar, with support from the Asian Development Bank, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and Universitas Indonesia.

I. The urgent need for a just energy transition

My friends, I have tremendous confidence that we can successfully tackle the climate crisis together. But to do this effectively, we must confront a few uncomfortable truths. And as the keynote speakers today will show, these truths are backed by scientific evidence.

The first is that energy is essential for the economic growth that has lifted millions out of poverty in Asia and the Pacific. But it comes at great cost: energy use in our region is the source of 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, Asia and the Pacific is vulnerable to the most destructive effects of climate change, which continue to worsen.

And third, combined with the impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, climate change has been especially devastating for poor and vulnerable groups, women and girls, and small island nations.

These difficult facts tell us clearly that the battle against climate change will be won or lost in Asia and the Pacific. To succeed, our region needs to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future—and science will help us get there.

II. Ensuring a just energy transition across Asia and the Pacific

We need to deploy substantial resources to make this transition. But we also need to make sure that the transition is just and inclusive.

Let me highlight three key ways that we can accomplish this.

First, we urgently need to scale up support for energy transition, using innovative approaches. Climate finance will play a big role here, and ADB is stepping up to this challenge.

Last year, we elevated our ambition to provide $100 billion in cumulative climate finance between 2019 and 2030.

We want to earn our reputation as the Climate Bank for Asia and the Pacific—not only through the volume of our operations, but also through our game-changing financing instruments.

An example of this is our Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM), which is being piloted right here in Indonesia, to accelerate the retirement of coal power plants. ETM will do this in new ways—by applying scientific approaches and by bringing together financing from government, donors, and philanthropies.

A second thing we need to do is to join together to make a clear and steadfast commitment to a just energy transition.

ADB’s new Energy Policy articulates this commitment. It reflects our decision to withdraw from coal financing and to ensure access to affordable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

We also need to solidify our shared commitment to a just transition. ADB is doing this through coordinated actions, such as the joint statement of Multilateral Development Banks on just transition. We are also aligning our operations with the Paris Agreement.

Third, our efforts on just energy transition should take into account the unique challenges each of our developing member countries faces in transforming their energy systems.

To succeed in this area, we will support planning that involves all stakeholders, establish strong institutional frameworks to address the social and economic impacts of energy transition, and build effective knowledge on the transition that is grounded in scientific evidence.


Let me close by saying that I very much look forward to your ideas today on these approaches to a just energy transition.

I know that if we follow these approaches carefully in our work together, we will achieve a greener and more prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.