Energy rests at the heart of the sustainable development process. Across Asia-Pacific and indeed the world, delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 7 on sustainable energy can unlock progress on many of the other Sustainable Development Goals. However, the region’s progress towards achieving the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 7 are uneven and as a whole the region will fail to reach many of these targets at the current rate of progress. More ambition is needed to accelerate the deployment of renewables and take full advantage of energy efficiency. In terms of energy access, while developing countries of the region are making great strides towards bringing electricity to far flung populations, the provision of clean cooking access lags behind. As energy is the principal source of greenhouse gas emissions, the realization of the goals under the Paris Agreement require the Asia-Pacific to rapidly move towards a high renewable, high efficiency energy future.
Shifting the dial on sustainable energy requires long term and decisive policies to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels, to use public policy levers to ensure all energy efficiency opportunities are captures and to make long term investments in areas such as green hydrogen and electric vehicles. Phasing out coal fired generation, pricing carbon and rationalizing fossil fuels are some of the steps that can accelerate this transition.
In response to these challenges, it is essential that countries work together. This cooperation can exist on many levels – from sharing policy experiences and best practices to deeper cooperation on cross border power grid connectivity and the trade in clean energy technologies. It is important that countries work together to confront long term strategic energy challenges such as the recovery from COVID-19, geopolitical disruption not energy supply and the vulnerabilities through the supply of Critical Raw Material needed to build the clean energy economy.