UN agencies support a just energy transition in Asia


UN Climate Change News, 21 June 2022 – A group of UN agencies designed to accelerate the phase-down of coal is working on ways to help societies wean themselves off coal in Asia and the Pacific region, by putting emphasis on the just transition to clean energy. The working group was formed within a coalition on (link is external)
Increase ambition on climate actions.

Coal is the fossil fuel most responsible for the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. 30% of primary energy in G20 members and 50% in Asia still comes from coal. Unless coal is phased out and global greenhouse gas emissions are halved by 2030, there will be no way the world will stay below an average temperature increase. global 1.5 degrees. Already at a global warming of just over 1 degree Celsius, Asia is experiencing unprecedented heat waves, droughts and floods.

All governments agreed to a coal phase-out at the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November last year, with a number of countries making concrete pledges. A (link is external)
The Just Transition Declaration, re-emphasizing the importance of a just transition to sustainable energy, was released following the launch of (link is external)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Action for Jobs Initiative (CA4JI), designating the International Labor Organization (ILO) to lead its implementation.

Risks and opportunities of transitioning away from coal

Last month, on the sidelines of the 78e(link is external)
The Commission of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the ILO, ESCAP, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat together to coordinate their efforts and discuss next steps.

Inspired by a recent (link is external)
publication “A Just Energy Transition in Southeast Asia: The Impact of Coal Phase-out on Jobs”, discussions at this event focused specifically on the steps needed to ensure that any coal phase-out in Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam is actually fair. In Southeast Asia, coal consumption (link is external)
increased by 150% over the past 20 years, with the share of coal in the electricity mix increasing from 27% in 2010 to 43% in 2019. These three countries are among the five most coal-consuming economies in Southeast Asia. East . Indonesia and Viet Nam are major coal producers, while the Philippines relies heavily on coal imports for power generation in Southeast Asian countries.

Experts warn that job losses due to mine closures in coal-dependent regions can have a profound negative effect on labor markets, economies and the livelihoods of local communities in these countries.

“An energy transition that focuses only on solving the financial losses for the capital owners of coal-fired power plants or mines, but not on the problems of workers and communities, will not succeed. The potential of nature-based jobs to provide green jobs for these workers must be maximized,” said Panudda Boonpala, Deputy Regional Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, ILO.

Coal phase-out also offers opportunities. “2.7 million jobs are projected to be lost due to the phase-out and downsizing of fossil fuel power plants by 2030 under current commitments, but 13 million new jobs will be created through the clean energy transition, and it needs to be around 30 million for a net zero goal by 2050,” said Sonja Leighton-Kone, Acting Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.

The challenges are clear. Coal-producing regions are often isolated, and the opportunities that arise in the clean energy sector may not match the existing skills or geographic locations of the workers involved.

“Ensuring that everyone benefits from the energy transition requires interventions such as strong labor market policies, social protection and the development of new skills. Maintaining a dialogue between workers, government and employers throughout this process is also essential,” said Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development, ESCAP.

More and more countries, jurisdictions and companies are debating, adopting and implementing climate goals, including mid-century net zero commitments and specific coal phase-out targets. Progress in deploying different types of fuels, power plants and renewable energy infrastructure in Asia-Pacific from 1990 to present can be viewed and tracked in the United Nations (link is external)
Asia-Pacific Energy Portal.

The UNFCCC/IGES Regional Collaborating Center for Asia and the Pacific (RCC Bangkok) supports efforts to phase out coal

RCC Bangkok supports the UN Climate Change initiative on response measures to minimize impacts, including the management of just transition issues.

Coal-fired power generation is a significant part of the garment industries carbon footprint. Thus, RCC Bangkok integrates the work of the UNFCCC with the fashion charter and the activities of this working group to amplify the impact. For example, through the Fashion Charter for Climate Action, RCC Bangkok will facilitate innovative approaches to increase resource efficiency in industries by engaging leading global brands and their supply chain partners. supply to Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Viet Nam.

Through its ongoing CIACA project, RCC Bangkok helps countries encourage the shift from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy sources to accelerate the just transition.

In addition to technical feasibility aspects, policy options, RCC Bangkok and the UN Climate Change Secretariat plan to support this working group to collect information and data regarding the impact of response measures and to conduct region-focused capacity building activities. These include the recently concluded SB56 (link is external)
just transition policy event; regional workshops; national policy dialogues; and more awareness on just transition at COP27.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

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