Sustainable energy crucial to ease pandemic shocks in Asia-Pacific: ESCAP

Diplomatic Correspondent

25 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The delegates at the Committee on Energy said the Asia-Pacific region’s move towards a sustainable and low-carbon energy future is now more critical than ever as it builds back better together from the COVID-19 pandemic

The remarks came at the opening session of the Committee, convened by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), at virtual platform Wednesday.

The high-level delegates have gathered online for three days, from February 24 to 26, to review progress on the region’s energy priorities.

The priorities highlight ensuring universal access to modern energy and accelerating the uptake of renewables and energy efficiency in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a message from Bangkok, ESCAP said the pandemic has increased focus on resilience underscoring how societies and critical sectors such as energy supply can enhance their capacity to weather pandemic shocks.

The good news is the region’s energy systems have continued to function throughout the pandemic.

The new Regional Trends Report 2021 shaping a sustainable energy future in Asia and the Pacific shows that the energy demand reductions have mainly affected fossil fuels and depressed oil and gas prices.

The report was released by the ESCAP Wednesday focusing on an energy future to promote a greener, more resilient and inclusive energy system.

The renewable energy development in different countries across the region, such as China and India, continued at a healthy pace throughout 2020.

“The past year has been a testing and transformative time for the Asia-Pacific region,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks at the Committee.

“As we work together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, ESCAP has been using its platform to support our members to respond to the long-term challenge of building back better,” said Alisjahbana.

Executive Secretary of ESCAP said, “Energy is essential not just for hospitals and healthcare but to support the systems and coping mechanisms we rely on to work remotely, continue education, and to communicate essential health information to citizens.”

She added, “Accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy offers an opportunity to assist countries in the region to recover from the pandemic towards a cleaner and low carbon future.”

In his remarks, Permanent Secretary and Ministry of Energy of Thailand, Kulit Somatsiri put stress on urgent action to ensure sustainable energy development and economic recovery measures as part of the COVID-19 response.

Citing the rapid increase in the energy needs in the Asia-Pacific region, he said, “While we need to meet the increased demand, secure energy supplies, and ensure that the energy system is sustainable, affordable, and low carbon, at the same time, we all need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ situation.”