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EF China and UNESCAP Co-Hosted Transport and Coal Dialogues at Asia-Pacific Energy Forum

On October 19 and 20, 2023, the Third Asian and Pacific Energy Forum, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) was held during the Asia-Pacific Energy Week and attended by nearly 300 officials from 40 countries and 10 international organizations. During the week, Energy Foundation China (EF China) and UNESCAP co-hosted two policy dialogues on the topics of the electrification of public transport and the phase-down of coal use in the Asia-Pacific region respectively, at which representatives of think tanks and industry experts from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other countries conducted in-depth discussions. This series of events aimed to build a bridge to promote exchange between China and other countries in the region in the field of low carbon energy transition, and to find opportunities for more cooperation. A key event under the cooperation framework of the memorandum of understanding between EF China and UNESCAP, The two policy dialogues were a manifestation of EF China’s strategy of facilitating low carbon energy transition in Southeast Asia.

The Third Asian and Pacific Energy Forum is held on October 19–20, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by EF China

The Asian and Pacific Energy Forum 2023 aimed to provide a platform for dialogues among governments, the United Nations agencies, the private sector, international organizations, and the civil society in Asia-Pacific; facilitate the dissemination and scale-up of experiences in the energy transition in member countries; and mobilize and synergize national and regional action toward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal on Affordable and Clean Energy known as “SDG 7.” At the transport and coal policy dialogues, officials from the Ministry of Transport and Highways of Sri Lanka and experts from the National Energy Technology Center of Thailand, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Pakistan, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, University of Technology Sydney, Murdoch University, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNESCAP, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, UN Energy, and other think tanks and institutions shared their recommendations on the development, implementation, and challenges of global and national action plans for energy transition.

During the policy dialogue on the electrification of public transport, experts exchanged information on the current progress of e-mobility and low carbon public transport in different countries in Asia-Pacific, and discussed national energy policy roadmaps and regional cooperation mechanisms for accelerating the process. They agreed that the electrification of public transport is highly compatible with the Sustainable Development Goals and provides an effective solution for the sector to cut both criteria and carbon emissions, as well as reducing its reliance on fossil fuel imports.

Han Wei, Director of Programs at EF China’s President’s Office, speaks at the Policy Dialogue on the Electrification of Public Transport in October 2023. Photo by EF China

Experts at the policy dialogue on phasing down the use of coal shared the current status of coal consumption in the region and future plans for its reduction, while representatives from countries such as Vietnam and Pakistan reviewed the progress, opportunities, and challenges of the coal transition in their respective countries. The experts agreed that coal transition programs shall be adapted to specific country conditions, promote a just transition of the coal sector, reduce the risk of stranded assets, and synergistically promote the reduction of coal use from the perspectives of air quality improvement, socio-economic development, and environmental protection.

Han Wei, Director of Programs at EF China’s President’s Office, speaks at the Policy Dialogue on the Phase-Down of Coal Use in the Asia-Pacific Region in October 2023. Photo by EF China

Han Wei, Director of Programs at EF China’s President’s Office, said in her speeches that balancing economic growth and GHG emissions mitigation is a major challenge for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and that more international cooperation and sharing of lessons and success stories will help the countries break policy, technology, and financing barriers, develop and implement action plans, and accelerate the realization of a green, low carbon energy transition. EF China is committed to working with UNESCAP to help Asia-Pacific countries promote electric vehicle programs, achieve a just transition for the coal sector, facilitate investments in the transition, and jointly help the region build a clean, affordable, and sustainable energy system through country-specific action plan studies to identify policy options in electrifying transport and reducing coal use, Ms. Han said.

During his speeches at the two dialogues, Liu Hongpeng, Director of the Energy Division of UNESCAP, said that the Asia-Pacific region has a rapid growth in energy demand and huge potential for carbon mitigation. The region accounts for nearly 60% of global carbon emissions, of which coal took up 62% of the total emissions from the region’s energy sector and provided 42% of the region’s energy supply in 2020; on the other hand, carbon emissions from transportation accounted for 13% of the region’s total in 2021, but took up half of the region’s total oil consumption, said Mr. Liu. Promoting transport electrification and coal transition is vital for the region’s carbon reduction and sustainable development efforts, emphasized Mr. Liu. Driven by the same vision, UNESCAP hopes to maintain long-term cooperation with EF China to provide more opportunities for policy exchanges and case sharing on the energy transition in Asia-Pacific countries and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement targets, added Mr. Liu.

Liu Hongpeng, Director of the UNESCAP Energy Division, speaks at the Policy Dialogue on the Phase-Down of Coal Use in the Asia-Pacific Region in October 2023. Photo by EF China

During the Asia-Pacific Energy Week, EF China also supported UNESCAP and Canada’s Simon Fraser University in launching a booth to demonstrate through virtual reality the use of passive cooling for buildings, and to share the potential for piloting the technology in Cambodia in the future. In addition, EF China also recommended experts from the Chinese building sector to share China’s experiences in upgrading building energy efficiency standards with Asia-Pacific countries at another dialogue event titled “The Role of Energy Efficient and Low Carbon Buildings in Realizing SDG 7 in the Asia-Pacific Region.”

EF China supports UNESCAP and Simon Fraser University in launching a booth on cooling efficiency during the Asia-Pacific Energy Week in October 2023. Photo by EF China


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