Earlier this fall, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry shone a spotlight on Vietnam, urging the Southeast Asian nation to “do what is sensible” and refocus its energy sector by investing in renewables and retiring fossil fuels. His remarks coincided with a deal between the European Union and the United Kingdom that made headway last week, which will see the two powers invest at least $11 billion in Vietnam’s green transition. The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) seeks to cancel projects for new coal plants and build out 60GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. Expected to be finalized at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting next month, the ambitious package will include public and private financing, technology transfers, and technical assistance.
JETP is not the first deal of its kind. The last decade has seen investors show a growing interest in expanding renewable technology in Southeast Asia. But for Vietnam’s government, the green energy transition is less about a passion for saving the planet and more about driving economic growth by any means possible. Vietnam cares about decarbonization – and renewables do have the potential to become the lowest-cost available energy option. But many political, regulatory, and financing challenges still stand in the way of this goal. Vietnam will ultimately act in its own best interest when deciding its energy future, but it must be wary of not getting overly ambitious with its commitments to the green transition by taking on debt and accepting capital for projects that are premature, imprudent, or ill-advised. An “energy transition” can be dangerous to any developing country that does not have the same risk tolerance as wealthier nations, and Vietnam is susceptible to falling into this trap.
Improving lives just as important as closing coal power plants
Training workforce for green energy is key to ‘just transition’
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – After clinching one of the largest-ever climate finance deals to shutter its coal-fired power plants early, Indonesia needs to work out how to make sure communities that will be impacted by the shift to renewable energy do not lose out, analysts said.
A coalition of rich nations pledged $20 billion of public and private finance to help Indonesia retire its coal power plants sooner than planned, the United States, Japan and other partners said this week
The Indonesia Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), which involves providing grants and concessional loans over a three- to five-year period linked to cuts in emissions from the power sector, is based on a similar deal made with South Africa last year.
Tommy Pratama, executive director of Indonesian policy think-tank Traction Energy Asia, said a “just transition” that benefits local communities is vital for the green deal’s success.
“The key decisions about how the funding is spent must be open and transparent with the full involvement of acknowledged experts, affected local communities and civil society groups,” said Pratama in an interview.
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For 30 years, developing nations have fought to establish an international fund to pay for the “loss and damage” they suffer as a result of climate change. As the COP27 climate summit in Egypt wrapped up over the weekend, they finally succeeded.
While it’s a historic moment, the agreement of loss and damage financing left many details yet to be sorted out. What’s more, many critics have lamented the overall outcome of COP27, saying it falls well short of a sufficient response to the climate crisis. As Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow, noted:
Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately it remains on life support.
But annual conferences aren’t the only way to pursue meaningful action on climate change. Mobilisation from activists, market forces and other sources of momentum mean hope isn’t lost.
Today, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen , on behalf of the EU, and the leaders of the International Partners Group (IPG), which is jointly led by the United States and Japan and includes Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom, launched a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with Indonesia . The launch takes place in connection with an event within the framework of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) at the G20 summit, which takes place on 15-16 November 2022 in Bali.
In a joint statement , Indonesia and international partners have announced their commitment to meeting ground-breaking climate targets and related financing. This is done to support the Asian country in an ambitious and fair energy transition, which is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and which contributes to keeping the global warming limit of 1.5 °C within reach.
The world is already witnessing the consequences of human-caused climate change, including hotter temperatures, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe storms. What’s harder to see are climate change’s effects on the spread of disease: on the mosquito that carries a virus, or the pathogenic bacteria on a piece of fruit.
At a cost of $37 billion, Indonesia could retire its coal power plants as early as 2040 and reap economic, social and environmental benefits from the shift, a new analysis by nonprofit TransitionZero shows.
Replacing coal with renewables will create a windfall of new jobs, which would outweigh coal closure job losses by six to one, according to the analysis.
The analysis has also identified three coal plants in Indonesia that are the most suitable for early retirement, as they have lower abatement costs and are the most polluting.
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s plan to retire its coal-fired power plants and replace them with renewable energy by 2050 is not only feasible, but, when environmental costs are considered, will be less costly than relying on coal to power the Indonesian economy, according to a new analysis.
Indonesia is often dubbed as the last bastion for coal, as its power sector remains heavily reliant on the fossil fuel — about 70% of its generated electricity came from coal in 2021. Indonesia is also the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter.
As countries prepare to gather at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt to advance the Paris Agreement on climate change, attention turns once again to its building blocks: countries’ 2030 climate commitments, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
While the Paris Agreement established three global goals — limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) and ideally 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), promote adaptation and resilience, and align financial flows with low-emissions, climate-resilient development — NDCs are the foundation. In its NDC, each of the Paris Agreement’s 194 Parties must lay out its aims to reduce emissions. Many also include plans for adapting to climate impacts and the financial requirements needed for implementation.
Countries must strengthen their NDCs on a regular, five-year cycle. Most submitted their initial commitments in 2015 and updated them by 2021. A new, stronger round of NDCs is due in 2025.
WRI’s Climate Watch platform tracks more than 200 indicators on all NDCs. The new State of NDCs report analyzed this data to draw out key trends and evaluate where the NDCs now stand. The key takeaway? Countries are making incremental progress on strengthening their NDCs, but what we really need to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement is urgent transformational change.
Here’s what we know and what countries should keep in mind as they formulate new NDCs by 2025:
JAKARTAApart from the narrow, unpaved road, the two-meter-high concrete coastal wall is the only thing that separates Suhemi’s small restaurant in North Jakarta from the sea. Her family depends on that wall. Growing up here in the Muara Baru neighborhood in the 80s and 90s, Suhemi used to play on the beach in front of her house. But by the 2000s the beach had disappeared, and the sea frequently inundated the neighborhood.
In 2002, the government built the coastal wall, to give the residents peace of mind and time—a respite from the steady sinking of the land under the city and the steady rising of the sea. But just five years later, in 2007, the wall proved no match for the worst floods in Jakarta’s modern history. Driven by a storm coming off the Java Sea and torrential rains, the floods claimed 80 lives around the city and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.
In Muara Baru, the storm surge collapsed the wall, and the sea flooded Suhemi’s house.
High-profile initiatives to plant millions of trees are being touted by governments around the world as major contributions to fighting climate change. But scientists say many of these projects are ill-conceived and poorly managed and often fail to grow any forests at all.
It was perhaps the most spectacular failed tree planting project ever. Certainly the fastest. On March 8, 2012, teams of village volunteers in Camarines Sur province on the Filipino island of Luzon sunk over a million mangrove seedlings into coastal mud in just an hour of frenzied activity. The governor declared it a resounding success for his continuing efforts to green the province. At a hasty ceremony on dry land, an official adjudicator from Guinness World Records declared that nobody had ever planted so many trees in such a short time and handed the governor a certificate proclaiming the world record. Plenty of headlines followed.
But look today at the coastline where most of the trees were planted. There is no sign of the mangroves that, after a decade of growth, should be close to maturity. An on-the-ground study published in 2020 by British mangrove restoration researcher Dominic Wodehouse, then of Bangor University in Wales, found that fewer than 2 percent of them had survived. The other 98 percent had died or were washed away.
Four years ago, I traveled around America, visiting historical archives. I was looking for documents that might reveal the hidden history of climate change – and in particular, when the major coal, oil and gas companies became aware of the problem, and what they knew about it.
I pored over boxes of papers, thousands of pages. I began to recognize typewriter fonts from the 1960s and ‘70s and marveled at the legibility of past penmanship, and got used to squinting when it wasn’t so clear.
What those papers revealed is now changing our understanding of how climate change became a crisis. The industry’s own words, as my research found, show companies knew about the risk long before most of the rest of the world.
At an old gunpowder factory in Delaware – now a museum and archive – I found a transcript of a petroleum conference from 1959 called the “Energy and Man” symposium, held at Columbia University in New York. As I flipped through, I saw a speech from a famous scientist, Edward Teller (who helped invent the hydrogen bomb), warning the industry executives and others assembled of global warming.
The costs of doing nothing vastly outweigh the costs of decarbonising a global economy which, since the Industrial Revolution, has been powered by fossil fuels. That may seem self-evident today, when catastrophic fires and floods offer daily reminders of how expensive continued inaction on climate change is. But 15 years ago, that insight was ground-breaking.
The 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, for which I was a senior economist, was the first time a G7 government had used economic analysis to spell out the case for urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A decade and a half on, its conclusions and recommendations are as valid as ever.
New data on forest fires confirms what we’ve long feared: Forest fires are becoming more widespread, burning nearly twice as much tree cover today as they did 20 years ago.
Using data from a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland, we calculated that forest fires now result in 3 million more hectares of tree cover loss per year compared to 2001 — an area roughly the size of Belgium — and accounted for more than a quarter of all tree cover loss over the past 20 years.
Floods, droughts, tropical storms, and heat waves are severely testing the resilience of a region with a lot of vulnerable people.
Two people on a makeshift raft during flooding in Pakistan. People make their way along a waterlogged street in a residential area after a heavy monsoon rainfall in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on Aug. 24. AKRAM SHAHID/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
AUGUST 24, 2022, 5:07 PM
High temperatures, frequent droughts, torrential rains, and other extreme weather events this summer have throttled Asia, forced industries to shut down, slowed global business, disrupted food supplies, and upended the lives of ordinary people living in some of the world’s most populous countries and densely packed cities.
For months, countries across the Asia-Pacific have been experiencing a mix of heavier rains and higher temperatures, creating unpredictable weather patterns. When the rains aren’t falling a lot—as in Pakistan, where eight monsoon cycles have left thousands of people homeless—they aren’t falling at all, causing energy shortages as droughts have seriously restricted access to hydroelectric power. Record-breaking temperatures in China, for example, have sparked intense wildfires in the country’s center and dried up rivers that cities bank on to power industries and homes.
International efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say countries aren’t doing enough to limit dangerous global warming.
Countries have debated how to combat climate change since the early 1990s. These negotiations have produced several important accords, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
Governments generally agree on the science behind climate change but have diverged on who is most responsible and how to set emissions-reduction goals.
Experts say the Paris Agreement is not enough to prevent the global average temperature from rising 1.5°C. When that happens, the world will suffer devastating consequences, such as heat waves and floods.
Over the last several decades, governments have collectively pledged to slow global warming. But despite intensified diplomacy, the world could soon face devastating consequences of climate change.
Through the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps rising, heating the Earth at an alarming rate. Scientists warn that if this warming continues unabated, it could bring environmental catastrophe to much of the world, including staggering sea-level rise, record-breaking droughts and floods, and widespread species loss.
Dozens of countries made new commitments during a UN climate conference known as COP26 in November 2021. Still, experts, activists, and citizens remain concerned that these pledges are not ambitious enough.
What are the most important international agreements on climate change?