Climate Change Correspondent, Asia, Singapore
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Apr 19, 2010

W.Bank says East Asia can stabilise CO2 by 2025

SINGAPORE, April 19 (Reuters) – China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, and five other East Asian nations, need a net additional investment of $80 billion per year to get on to a sustainable energy path, the World Bank said on Monday.

Such investment was crucial to curb an otherwise inevitable surge in planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions as regional economies grow to lift millions out of poverty and to meet the energy needs of rapid urbanisation, the Bank said in a report.

The report, "Winds of change: East Asia’s sustainable energy future", said it was possible for China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to stabilize their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 without compromising growth.

But the move would require major policy changes and investments in energy efficiency and a concerted switch to renewable sources of power.

Such a switch would also increase energy security while improving local environments.

Underscoring the region’s rapid rise, the bank said East Asia achieved a 10-fold increase in GDP over the past three decades, leading to a tripling of energy consumption, which was expected to double again in the next two decades.

"Countries need to act now to transform the energy sector towards much higher energy efficiency and widespread deployment of low-carbon technologies," Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for the East Asia & Pacific Region, said in a statement.

The report looked at two scenarios in which development continued according to current government policies and an alternative, low-carbon growth path.

MAJOR HURDLE

Under the alternative sustainable energy development (SED) path, the report said renewable energy, including hydropower, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar, could meet a significant proportion of the region’s power needs by 2030.

And to achieve this sustainable energy path, net additional investment of $80 billion per year was needed over the next two decades, or an average of 0.8 percent of regional GDP. But mobilizing this financing was a major hurdle, the Bank said.

"Historically, financing has been a constraint in developing countries. The results have been under-investment in infrastructure and a bias toward energy choices with lower up-front capital costs," it said.

It also estimated that approximately $25 billion per year would be required as concessional financing to cover the incremental costs and risks of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Under the reference (REF) scenario, emissions of local air pollutants and CO2 would double over the next two decades. Coal would also continue to be the dominant fuel.

This would lead to growing energy security concerns triggered by increased risks of price volatility and exposure to disruptions in energy supplies, the report says.

"Throughout the next two decades, imports of oil and gas will grow across the region. Under the REF scenario, by 2030 China is expected to import 75 percent of its oil and 50 percent of its gas demand and become the largest oil importer in the world. Malaysia and Vietnam are projected to switch from being net energy exporters to net importers," it says.

Under the SED scenario, CO2 emissions of the six countries could peak at 2025 and decline slightly thereafter.

Local environmental damage costs by 2030 would drop to $66 billion versus $127 billion under the REF scenario.

The study said the share of coal in power generation was projected to decline from 70 percent under the REF scenario to 36 percent under the sustainable development scenario by 2030. This assumed that carbon capture and storage would play a key role.

This would also require a 3-fold increase in the share of low-carbon technologies such as renewable energy and nuclear in power generation from today’s 17 percent.

"Scaling up renewable energy requires putting a price on carbon and providing financial incentives to deploy renewable energy technologies," the report says. (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)





Apr 16, 2010

Rush for REDD could undermine local forest rights

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A U.N.-backed forest preservation scheme could become too valuable and complex, raising the risk local communities, the very people seen as key to the scheme’s success, could be shut out, scientists say.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, or REDD, has already attracted billion of dollars of funding pledges from rich nations keen to see the scheme established as part of a broader global climate pact from 2013.

Apr 16, 2010

Rush for REDD could undermine local forest rights -study

SINGAPORE, April 16 (Reuters) – A U.N.-backed forest preservation scheme could become too valuable and complex, raising the risk local communities, the very people seen as key to the scheme’s success, could be shut out, scientists say.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, or REDD, has already attracted billion of dollars of funding pledges from rich nations keen to see the scheme established as part of a broader global climate pact from 2013.

REDD would allow developing nations to earn valuable carbon offsets for projects that preserve or rehabilitate forests, which soak up planet-warming carbon dioxide as they grow.

Rich nations would buy the offsets to help them meet emissions reduction goals at home. That demand would underpin forest investments that could reach $30 billion a year by 2020, the United Nations has estimated.

That same demand could also undermine a major shift in the way forests have been managed in poorer nations, where cash-strapped national governments have given local communities and administrations more rights and powers to run their forests.

Such "decentralised" management has been shown to boost forest carbon storage and result in better incomes in a number of developing nations, say Edward Webb and Jacob Phelps of the National University of Singapore.

The scientists, along with co-author Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan, in a study published in Friday’s issue of the Journal Science, looked at how the rush for REDD could affect local management and governance of forests.

"One of the issues has been people’s rights for use and management of forests because there has been a decentralisation trend over the past two or three decades," Edwards told Reuters.

The risk, they say, is that by monetising forest carbon, REDD would substantially increase the market value of forests, including those previously considered marginal, prompting central governments to increase control.

A performance-based payment mechanism would pressure governments to avoid the risk of non-payment resulting from local failures, the authors say in the study.

"BILLIONS AT STAKE"

"With billions of dollars at stake, governments could justify recentralisation by portraying themselves as more capable and reliable than local communities at protecting national interest," the authors say.

Deforestation is responsible for nearly a fifth of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions and curbing forest loss is regarded as a key way to brake the pace of global warming.

The key is incentivising major forest nations such as Indonesia and Brazil, which have already attracted investment to create REDD pilot projects. Indonesia has more than a dozen.

Globally, there is now widespread support for an enhanced form called REDD-plus that also covers sustainable management of forests, conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Draft negotiating text on REDD-plus under U.N. climate talks does not mandate the rights of local communities in forest management nor guarantee revenue from carbon offset sales, propping up fears of some green groups that REDD will trample on locals’ rights.

"It is the market that is going to be coming in and serving a lot of these investments for carbon emissions reductions. And we don’t see a mandate for local participation or decentralised forest management," Edwards said.

At U.N. climate talks last December in Copenhagen, the United States, Japan, Norway and three other rich nations pledged $3.5 billion as fast-start financing to ramp up REDD in poor nations. The money comes on top of other funds already pledged.

Phelps said such funding levels would drive outcomes but to develop REDD projects was complex, time-consuming and there was a danger in rushing for a result.

"There’s a tension and that tension is time," he said. "To develop REDD that is going to generate long-term emissions reductions is going to be the challenge." (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)





Apr 15, 2010

China shift to low-carbon model vital for future: U.N

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China should step up its drive to a low-carbon growth model to maintain economic development and preserve achievements that have made it the world’s third largest economy, a United Nations report says.

The report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released on Thursday says China’s current growth model will be hard to sustain as the nation becomes more urbanized and the economy keeps expanding, consuming ever more amounts of energy.

Apr 9, 2010

JP Morgan winds up Asia carbon team in Singapore-source

SINGAPORE, April 9 (Reuters) – U.S. investment bank J.P.
Morgan <JPM.N> has shut down its four-member Asia carbon team
based in Singapore to streamline operations, a source familiar
with the matter said on Friday.

The decision comes after the bank bought major carbon
project developer EcoSecurities, leading to a decision that
J.P. Morgan’s Singapore operations and projects could be
absorbed by EcoSecurities’ much larger network in Asia, the
source said.

Apr 7, 2010

E.ON to ramp up investment in SE Asia clean energy projects

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – German utility E.ON will move its carbon team from Malaysia to Singapore this month and aims to ramp up investment in clean-energy projects in Southeast Asia, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The firm sees the region, and particularly Indonesia, as offering strong opportunities in projects that yield U.N.-backed carbon offsets, said Frederic Boeuf, regional director of project development for E.ON Climate and Renewables.

Apr 7, 2010

E.ON to move SE Asia carbon team to Singapore

SINGAPORE, April 7 (Reuters) – German utility E.ON
<EONGn.DE> will move its carbon team from Malaysia to Singapore
this month and aims to ramp up investment in clean-energy
projects in Southeast Asia, a senior official said on
Wednesday.

The firm sees the region, and particularly Indonesia, as
offering strong opportunities in projects that yield
U.N.-backed carbon offsets and already has a “full pipeline” of
prospective investments, said Frederic Boeuf, regional director
of project development for E.ON Climate and Renewables.

Mar 31, 2010

Mega-flood triggered cooling 13,000 years ago: scientists

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Scientists say they have found the trigger of a sharp cooling 13,000 years ago that plunged Europe into a mini ice age.

Mark Bateman from the University of Sheffield in England said a catastrophic flood unleashed from a giant North American lake dumped large amounts of freshwater into the Arctic Ocean.

Mar 29, 2010

Gazprom ramps up Asian energy trade presence

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Russia’s Gazprom is ramping up its presence in Asia to trade liquefied natural gas, oil and source carbon offsets, as one of the world’s biggest energy players seeks to tap the fastest-growing region.

Gazprom formally launched its first commercial office in the Asia-Pacific on Monday.

Mar 15, 2010

Deep-sea volcanoes play key climate role: scientists

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A vast network of under-sea volcanoes pumping out nutrient-rich water in the Southern Ocean plays a key role in soaking up large amounts of carbon dioxide, acting as a brake on climate change, scientists say.

A group of Australian and French scientists have shown for the first time that the volcanoes are a major source of iron that single-celled plants called phytoplankton need to bloom and in the process soak up CO2, the main greenhouse gas.

    • About David

      "I report on climate policy, climate science and the carbon market (CDM, emissions trading) in Asia. I'm based in Singapore. It's a great story in a fast-growing and fast-changing region. I've been writing about climate change since university in Canberra, where I did a life sciences degree, with a communications major on the side. I started writing science articles for newspapers and, soon after completing my studies, joined as a cadet on The Canberra Times. After a few years there, it was off to London and then Hong Kong."
      Joined Reuters:
      1994
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