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Sustainable energy in Asia by 2050
by Richard Welford
06 Jul 2016

A new report from WWF argues that South East Asia’s energy needs could be met from non-polluting sources by 2050. Nations such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are all relying heavily on environmental damaging coal as an energy resource. But according to WWF’s studies the massive coal consumption and associated pollution could be exchanged with sustainable energy.

The report claims that SEA could be almost 100 percent reliable on sustainable energy by 2050. Through the use of comprehensive scenarios, WWF lays out plans for how Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand could move away from currently polluting coal plans and have the energy requirements covered by sustainable energy such as solar and water energy.

WWF are pushing to influence the national environmental policy in South East Asia and is making progress in persuading governments to think harder about alternative “green” energy sources. In Vietnam, the most coal-polluted nation of the five, and in Myanmar WWF are engaging with officials at a high political level to discuss the future national energy plans. WWF says that many governments (but most notable in Vietnam and Myanmar) are seriously concerned about pollution from coal -based energy and progress is being made.

In particular, WWF says that Myanmar is undergoing enormous political and financial developments and it is not fledged with coal plants yet. So the time is now for our alternatives to get into play. Energy requirements are rising with growing wealth amongst the population, so WWF points to a need to move fast.

WWF points to a rapidly growing demand for energy in countries by the Mekong-area. 50 million people still do not have access to reliable electricity in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. But the current national energy plans relies too much on coal, gas and unsustainable water energy. This is well illustrated by Vietnam where there has been an explosive boost of energy from coal. If everything follows the outlined plans, Vietnam will consume a third of the planned coal resources in the region. There is clearly a need for change.

Greater Mekong countries have a unique and timely opportunity to become leaders in clean, renewable electricity. Renewable energy sources such as sun, wind, water, geothermal, biomass, and ocean energy abound in the region and are increasingly becoming more affordable, more available and more efficient.

Through a regional plan and then five specific country level plans, WWF lays out a vision of sustainable energy by 2050 as well as sensible, cost effective solutions to some of the region’s most taxing energy problems. The goal is to spur a regional and global debate, as well as concrete actions, leading to an achievable, affordable renewable energy future in the Greater Mekong.

The full report is available here:

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