Some Southeast Asian nations have displayed leadership in facilitating bottom-up renewable energy development. Now it is time for others to follow suit.
In recent months, a rising number of countries has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. Globally, 124 nations have made net-zero pledges leading up to this year’s world climate summit in Glasgow (COP26). Despite varying deadlines, the recent net-zero movement has provided an “opening” to spur the decarbonisation of the global economy.
The wave of countries committing to carbon neutrality has also arrived in Southeast Asia, home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore was the first in the region that jumped on the net-zero carbon bandwagon with its pledge to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century, enshrined in the “Singapore Green Plan 2030”. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry expressed its hope to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. Prompted by the recent Leaders’ Summit on Climate convened by United States President Joe Biden, Malaysia and Thailand have also started dialogues around setting similar targets.
The key to achieving net-zero emissions is a global energy transformation, shifting from a fossil fuel-based and energy-intensive society to one that is renewables-based and energy-efficient. For this, we need public support. And therefore, we need an energy transition that citizens can be part of and that benefits everyone. That’s because grassroots participation has been shown to increase overall support for renewable energy projects, which will ultimately speed up the transition.
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