After Global Stocktake of COP28: Decarbonizing the Energy Sector in Southeast Asia toward Post ASEAN Vision 2025

Jakarta, April 26, 2024 – At COP28, a decision was made to adopt a global stocktake (GST). The decision acknowledged that the world is facing challenges in meeting the Paris Agreement target and projected that the global temperature may exceed 2.1 to 2.8°C by the end of this century even with full implementation of the current Nationally Determined Contributions. While current climate action may not be sufficient to fully address the global challenges we face, decarbonisation of the energy sector , including power generation, industry, transport, and buildings in the mid of this century, could make significant contribution to climate mitigation action, as the energy sector is responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions around 79% of global GHG emissions, according to the IPCC AR6 report of 2023

As parties to the UNFCCC, ASEAN Member States (AMS) have also agreed to support a just, orderly and equitable transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems. This includes tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, phasing out unabated coal power, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and reducing emissions from road transport. In essence, this GST decision can be used as a starting point to strengthen regional progress towards a more ambitious renewable energy target in Post ASEAN Vision 2025. 

Although Southeast Asian countries have demonstrated their commitment to climate and energy transition issues, their support for the energy transition agenda in line with the Paris Agreement could be further strengthened with more ambition (Eco, 2022-24). According to IRENA (2022), ASEAN has significant renewable energy potential of around 17 TW. ASEAN could become net-zero with 90% – 100% renewable energy by 2050 (IRENA and ACE, 2022).

While the region has significant renewable energy potential, it is worth noting that the ASEAN Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation (APAEC) (2016-2025) sets a modest target of 35% installed capacity and 23% energy mix by 2025. At present, only 28.2 GW of utility-scale solar and wind power is being generated in ASEAN (GEM, 2024), suggesting that the region’s renewable energy potential remains largely untapped. 

It is also worth noting that some ASEAN Member States (AMS), such as Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, have policies that allow for the growth of fossil fuels (Climate Action Tracker, 2024), including the development of captive coal plants, which account for around 13 GW of the 18.8 GW of new coal power in the pipeline (Mongabay, 2023), and the continuation of new coal plants until 2030 (Climate Home News, 2023). It concluded that there is room for improvement and acceleration in the implementation of ASEAN’s energy transition. Additionally, since the region is in the middle of development its vision more integrated community (ASEAN, 2025) and aligning with Paris Agreement, proposing a more ambitious renewable energy target could be beneficial for driving long term economic growth e.g. can generate USD 90 to 100 billion from renewable energy manufacturing and generating job creation (ADB, 2023). 

The two-year time span will be a crucial moment for the Southeast Asian region. It will be a period of significant change, not only in the context of the UNFCCC Global Stocktake 1 decision, but also in the context of ASEAN’s ongoing efforts to develop the New ASEAN Vision after 2025 and the ASEAN Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation Phase (APAEC) five years later. It will be important for the region to adapt to the changing times.

The former document will serve as a foundation and reflection of the political commitment of AMS leaders to take the region forward over the next twenty years. In the ASEAN Vision 2025, the term “climate change” is only mentioned once and does not seem to be considered a priority. Hopefully, in the new ASEAN Vision, the issue of climate change and energy transition can be addressed more strategically and become a priority issue, given its urgency and low-hanging fruit that can contribute to regional economic growth (IRENA, 2023). It would be beneficial for the region if this could become the North Star of national policies in ASEAN.

On the other hand, the development of the ASEAN Long-Term Renewable Energy Roadmap (ACE, 2023) is a positive step towards harmonising the achievement of a more targeted and ambitious collective renewable energy target. However, it is worth noting that in regional energy planning documents there is room for Clean Coal Technology (including CCUS), whose economics, effectiveness and safety are still questionable (CNBC, 2021) and could potentially lead to carbon lock-in.

It is worth noting that the path to accelerating the energy transition and increasing renewable energy targets in ASEAN is a long one, with many challenges to overcome in terms of policy design, implementation, and funding sources. However, there is great potential for economic growth in this area, including the market for energy storage (Mordor Intelligence, 2023), the electric vehicle market (FDI Intelligence, 2023), and solar PV manufacturing (REGlobal, 2023).. It would be beneficial for ASEAN to consider incorporating the results of GST1 into a regional vision that emphasizes green and low-carbon development, as well as more ambitious renewable energy targets. This could help to achieve optimal economic benefits at this crucial moment.