Asia Looks to Carve Own Energy Transition Path

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Politicians and industry leaders in Asia and the broader Global South are increasingly insisting that their path to net zero has to look different than that of developed Western nations. At this week’s Energy Asia conference, speakers stressed the need for developing economies to decide on their own decarbonization pathways to address issues of energy security and affordability as well as emissions. In particular, gas should continue to play an important role in energy transition as the region tries to maintain domestic development and economic growth. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim told a packed audience that Asian countries are not “climate deniers” but the region’s energy transition "must not be dictated by any group or countries" without consideration of other priorities such as education, eradication of poverty and infrastructure development. Malaysia has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030 up from an initial pledge of 35%. Asian policymakers largely dismissed EU plans that limit the role of natural gas and nuclear power generation that have been accelerated following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne argued that “affordability of energy is just fundamental” to Asia’s growing population that has "a legitimate ask for better way of life.” Such concerns reach well outside of Asia, said Proscovia Nabbanja, CEO of Uganda National Oil, arguing energy transition planning should be more clearly defined depending on the country’s economic maturity. “When we talk about energy transition, transition from what?” she asked. “In many countries people are still using biomass to cook.”

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