JAKARTA – The United Nations urged on Friday Asian countries, which have more than two-thirds of the world’s 2,400 coal plants, to make a transition to clean energy to curb the global climate crisis.
Rachel Kyte, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy and head of Sustainable Energy for All, and Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, made this request in a video conference with journalists from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea, of which Efe was a part.
“There is an extraordinary global focus in what is going on in Southeast Asia, and Asia more broadly, and it really is in this region where we will succeed or failed in the energy transition” from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Kyte said.
Kyte defended the financial viability, even for developing nations, of ceasing the construction of new coal-based plants by 2020, as urged by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“There is really no future for coal, it is not competitive by price over the life cycle or an investment in power generation and it has such an extreme impact in human health as well as in the planet,” the UN expert said.
China tops the list of countries in the world with the highest number of coal-based plants under construction with 132, followed by India (with 33) Indonesia (23), Japan (15), Vietnam (9) and the Philippines (8), according to watchdog group Global Energy Monitor.
China also has 1,032 coal-fired power plants in operation, followed by the United States with 296 and India with 291.
Kyte argued that coal financing has become increasingly difficult due to opposition from international development banks and some private banks, which has led to the construction of many power plant projects being canceled, although there are still others planned.
The expert also stressed the need to invest in more efficient energy systems as 40 percent of emissions can be prevented through appropriate technology and advocated an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
Meanwhile, Luis de Alba said he was working on financing packages to support the energy transition.
The UN representatives also invited governments to present concrete and long-term energy proposals during the climate summit in New York on Sept. 23.