No one doubts that the Far East is the region least affected by the coronavirus and the one that will emerge the most from the pandemic. Not surprisingly, the East Asian economies are the ones with the best forecasts at this time of strong global recession.
China tops the list, followed by Vietnam. But the countries of the continent, especially those of Southeast Asia, are also among those that may suffer the most from the consequences of climate change . In fact, they are already often hit by floods and typhoons whose destructive power is increasing . But in that regard, the region is not doing its homework.
This is what can be deduced from the report published today by Greenpeace to warn that “the way in which Southeast Asia responds to the increase in energy demand is a crucial issue in combating climate change.”
None of the eight countries that the environmental NGO has analyzed is meeting the targets set to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising by more than one and a half degrees , and the construction of new coal plants suggests that “greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse will grow at a record speed in the next ten years . ‘
“The interests of the coal industry, which have deeply infiltrated power structures, erratic changes in energy policies, and political bottlenecks in the adoption of solar and wind power pose great barriers to the climate response of the Southeast from Asia ”, denounces Greenpeace.
China is currently the most polluting country in the world in absolute terms – not per capita – but Southeast Asia is the second most dependent on coal. Its 79,067 megawatts exceed all the energy that the mineral generates in America, Europe and Africa .
However, even in this dark panorama, the NGO is clear that Vietnam is the country that is moving the most in the right direction , especially because it follows the pattern of China when it comes to betting on renewable energy as an alternative to coal : it has gone from having only 134 megawatts of solar in 2018, to 5,500 MW at the end of last year.
In Greenpeace’s opinion, in Vietnam “the renewables industry has absorbed part of the economic shock of Covid-19 and has protected the economy from the volatility of gas, coal, and oil prices.”
At the opposite extreme, Indonesia is in last position . While the rest of the countries analyzed still have time to correct their trajectory with changes in their energy policies, the island state can do little now. “It is the only country that, due to the lack of systemic reform, has no chance of reaching the degree and a half path by 2050.
In addition, the new legislation on coal and aid to the industry will cement that failure,” notes the report. As if that were not enough, in the case of the Asian lung, the deforestation of the primary forest on islands such as Borneo or Sumatra and the degradation of the ecosystem caused by monocultures such as palm oil are of concern.
Asia is undoubtedly the continent that develops the most and the one that best combats poverty.
But, if these socio-economic strategies are not accompanied by others aimed at reducing environmental impact, in the medium term the bullet could backfire. “We must increase the weight of renewables to 50% by 2030.
The example of Vietnam has debunked several myths about the reluctance to finance solar and wind energy projects in the region. In 2020, there are no more excuses to stop betting on renewables, ”said Chariya Senpong, the head of Greenpeace’s energy transition in Thailand.