During the opening of the Third Session of the Energy Committee, high-level delegates stressed that the change toward a sustainable, low-carbon energy future in the Asia-Pacific region is now more crucial than ever as it builds back together better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has increased emphasis on adaptability and how to withstand situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. These can be strengthened by societies and critical industries such as energy production.
Simultaneously, the new Regional Trends Report 2021 Shaping a sustainable energy future in Asia and the Pacific: A greener, more resilient and inclusive energy system highlighted that the region’s energy system has continued to function throughout the pandemic. Also, energy demand reductions have mainly affected fossil fuels and depressed oil and gas prices.
In countries like China and India, renewable energy development is developing at a steady rate throughout 2020.
“The past year has been a testing and transformative time for the Asia-Pacific region,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations (ESCAP) Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks at the Committee.
“As we work together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, ESCAP has been using its platform to support our members to respond to the long-term challenge of building back better,” said Ms Alisjahbana.
“Energy is essential not just for hospitals and healthcare but to support the systems and coping mechanisms we rely on to work remotely, continue education, and to communicate essential health information to citizens. Accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy offers an opportunity to assist countries in the region to recover from the pandemic towards a cleaner and low carbon future.”
On the other hand, Kulit Somatsiri, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy of Thailand, stated that, as part of the COVID-19 response, governments need to take urgent action to ensure renewable energy development and economic recovery initiatives.
“The energy needs in the Asia-Pacific region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world. While we need to meet increased demand, secure energy supplies, and ensure that the energy system is sustainable, affordable, and low carbon, at the same time, we all need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ situation,” he said. “This requires close collaboration and coordination among members in which ESCAP will play an important role to facilitate this transition process thoroughly and systematically.”
The newly-elected Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Jone Usamate, Minister of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, Government of Fiji, stressed the importance of the discussions and emphasised the need to ensure that the session produces concrete decisions shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific region’s energy transitions.
The Committee is expected to endorse this year’s decisions to improve cross-border power grid connectivity and continuously supporting countries in developing policy frameworks to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7.
The Committee will also finalise the terms of reference for the Commission’s expert working groups to analyse energy connectivity and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7.