Six of the fastest-growing East Asian economies could stabilize their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 without compromising growth, a new report from the World Bank has found.
By focusing on efficiency and a concerted switch to the use of renewable energy, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam could simultaneously stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security, and improve local environments, according to the report.
Energy use has tripled in the last three decades in the six nations, and is expected to double again by 2030. In the same period, GDP grew ten-fold.
Yet despite rapid growth, or rather because of it, these countries have a unique opportunity to grow sustainably because much about half of the infrastructure that would contribute to future emissions has yet to be built.
“The speed and scale of urbanization presents an unrivaled opportunity to build low-carbon cities,” said Xiaodong Wang, lead author of the report and senior energy specialist for the World Bank.
If you think the US is worried about foreign oil…
The report presents two major incentives for these countries to incorporate energy efficiency into their economic growth: energy security and environmental sustainability.
The six nations studied have significantly smaller oil and gas reserves than the world average, which means as their economies grow they will become increasingly dependent on foreign sources, which can be unstable and expensive. According to the report, East Asia has a mere 2.3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.
Greenhouse gas emissions from these countries is expected to rise, along with local environmental damage from development and pollution. Under the Sustainable Economic Development model outline in the report, environmental damage from development would be halved by 2030, from about $120 billion to $60 billion.
Among the report’s main recommendations:
- Policy and institutional reforms to achieve the huge energy efficiency potential in the region.
- Scaling up renewable energy to meet a major proportion of power demand by 2030.
- Accelerating innovation and new clean technologies.
- Working across sectors for smart urban planning.
- Developed countries need to transfer substantial financing and low-carbon technologies.