ASEAN nations seek to deliver multi-billion net zero economic boost

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has said it is to put in place a plan for a carbon-neutral future,  which will deliver a huge economic boost.

With Asean Economic Ministers from across the ASEAN member nations are to endorse a Asean Strategy for Carbon Neutrality, designed to complement the national initiatives in meeting their respective Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

The strategy was created by the Asean Member States and with the support from the Australia for Asean Futures (AUS4Asean) initiative and calls for Asean nations to pursue carbon neutrality with utmost urgency, and in doing so unlock the huge value potential of a green transformation of the region, according to WAM News Agency.

Countries across the region are amongst some of the most exposed to climate change, with five of the world’s 20 most at-risk countries located in the region. Unchecked climate change could drive down regional GDP by 11per cent by 2100, and lead to displacement of 87 million people in high-risk flood areas in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Dr Kao Kim Hourn, secretary general of Asean, explained: “Asean has reached an inflection point, where decarbonisation is paramount for the region’s continued economic growth. The Asean Strategy for Carbon Neutrality will provide the springboard to propel forward our green transition while unlocking huge economic potential for Asean’s citizens.”

The statement added the economic benefits of carbon neutrality would be accrued across all Asean member states. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam are projected to enjoy the greatest uplift, ranging from 9per cent to 12per cent of GDP by the end of the century. Middle-income countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand would see an increase of 4per cent to 7per cent. High-income countries of Singapore and Brunei would enjoy a more modest uplift of 1per cent to 2per cent.

“Asean needs to bridge a 2.6 gigatonne (GT) CO2 gap to achieve its carbon-neutrality goals, but has encouraging foundations to act,” the statement added. “The region has one of the lowest CO2 emissions per capita globally, at just 3.9 tonnes of CO2 (tCO2) per capita, below the global average of 4.8 tCO2, almost half of that of China (7.1 tCO2) and less than a quarter that of the USA (14.0 tCO2).”

“This transformative Strategy lays out Asean’s bold ambition to go beyond business-as-usual for economic integration, and strategically position the region favourably for a carbon-neutral future.”

The Strategy will need to be formally adopted by the Asean Economic Community Council (AECC) and to be acknowledged by the Asean leaders at the 23rd Asean Summit next month.