Asia’s lust for energy will be devastating for the environment unless governments adopt a radical change of thinking, says a new report by the Asian Development Bank.
Speaking at the University of Sydney today, ADB assistant chief economist Joe Zveglich warned that the downside of the Asian Century will be a huge rise in the region’s energy needs.
If the Asian economy expands as predicted, the region will go from using 34 per cent of global energy supplies today to up to 56 per cent by 2035. Projections for carbon dioxide emissions are “clearly unsustainable,” he warned.
Dr Zveglich said the region needs to take concrete steps to curb demand and expand the supply of clean, affordable energy. Poor people in developing countries should also have affordable access to energy, he said.
Dr Zveglich was speaking at the launch of the ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2013, which carries a special focus on Asia’s energy challenge.
Without fundamental changes to the way it consumes energy, Asia’s oil consumption will double by 2035, natural gas consumption will triple and coal consumption rise by 81 per cent.
“The region needs an ample supply of affordable energy to continue its rapid growth,” he said. But political leaders need to scrap outdated policies and step up support for next generation wind, solar and biofuel technologies, says the report.
It also calls for a greater focus on green, energy-efficient cities and transport systems.
The report says Asia is recovering from the slowdown of the previous year, helped by the rebound in China. Inflation is expected to rise but is under control, with the biggest threat to stability caused by political tensions.
The University is a knowledge partner of the ADB, which is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth. (Richard North/The University of Sydney)