In March this year, delegates met in Bangkok, at a Gala dinner, to discuss how over the past few years, energy security and sustainable development have moved up sharply on the global agenda. All agreed that both of these issues were critically important for Asia and the Pacific region.
To pursue energy security, the countries of the region must ensure that energy supplies are available, sufficient, affordable and sustainable. This means taking a broad range of measures: conserving and raising energy efficiency; rationalizing pricing and taxation systems; improving energy sector governance; and diversifying energy supplies, in particular making greater use of alternative and renewable resources.
Rapid Growth in Energy Consumption
Since 1980, the world has doubled its use of primary energy and much of the increase has come from Asia and the Pacific. This is due to rapid economic growth, massive investments in infrastructure and a booming construction industry, rising populations and a decline in the use of non-commercial energy, such as biomass and waste.
While this growth is likely to continue, the region also produces and consumes energy inefficiently. Therefore a viable strategy which stresses measures to reduce energy intensity--by boosting efficiency in production, conversion, transmission and utilization, must be implemented.
The region must also find ways of reducing the impact on the environment and on the climate. This will mean diversifying to low-carbon energy resources, including natural gas and renewable resources while improving efficiency by making better use of new and more advanced technologies.
Renewable Energy and Climate Change
The countries in the region have taken little advantage of renewable energy. Although with abundant renewable resources, these technologies are perceived to be risky and Governments must make such investment more attractive. Better use of these resources would also help mitigate climate change.
The potential for Trade
The region as a whole is rich in energy resources, both fossil and non-fossil. Asia and the Pacific has more than 50 per cent of the worlds natural gas and coal reserves, 25 per cent of oil reserves, and close to 60 per cent of uranium reserves.
Making these resources available in the regional market at affordable prices will mean boosting energy trade. Currently the region's energy trade is significantly underdeveloped.
Investment and Finance
At present, the production and distribution of energy is hampered by inadequate infrastructure. Investment is urgently required but cannot come from traditional sources of funding. Innovative financing solutions, including special funds for infrastructure development and greater private-sector participation, are necessary. These will require appropriate policies on pricing and taxation.
Innovation and Competitiveness
Using fossil fuel resources more efficiently and developing alternative sources of energy requires technological innovations. However reforms in energy sector governance are also required.
Regional and Sub-regional Cooperation
Since energy is a global commodity, it can not be addressed only at a national level. A more effective solution would be for regional and sub-regional organizations to work together to integrate regional energy systems.
Energy has become one of the most critical areas for Government policy. The choices made now will have profound implications across the region. While the options are not simple and will inevitably involve trade-offs, if they are made on a well informed and rational basis, today's policies will ensure energy security and sustainable development for many decades to come.
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|Title Annotation:||ENERGY & CLIMATE FORUM; United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific|
|Comment:||UNESCAP BAC.(ENERGY & CLIMATE FORUM)(United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2008|
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