Energy poverty- lack of access to electricity and reliance on traditional fuels for cooking and heating - remains an enduring problem. Globally, more than a billion people live without electricity and, nearly three billion depend entirely on wood, charcoal and dung for other domestic energy needs. Their search for energy fuels and services is an arduous, daily grind. Lack of access to modern energy has a broad impact.
In accordance with Commission resolution 67/2 on promoting regional cooperation for enhanced energy security and the sustainable use of energy in Asia and the Pacific, adopted in May 2011, the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum was convened in order to discuss — at the ministerial level — the progress achieved in the region in addressing energy security challenges at the regional, national and household levels, and to facilitate continuous dialogue among member States with a view to enhancing energy security and working towards sustainable development.
The Development Paper Series of the ESCAP South and South-West Asia Office (ESCAP-SSWA) promotes and disseminates policy-relevant research on the development challenges facing South and South-West Asia. It features policy research conducted by ESCAP SSWA as well as by outside experts from within the region and beyond.
In the Asia-Pacific region, almost two billion people are dependent on the traditional use of biomass and close to 700 million have no access to electricity. Among the various prevalent options, grid-based electrification has so far been the most widely used option, with renewable energy options accounting for a very small proportion. In the cooking and heating sectors, especially among rural households, biomass accounts for more than 30 per cent of total energy consumption in many developing countries, and in some Asia-Pacific countries its share stands as high as 95 per cent.
Climate change is one of the greatest environmental issues of our time and the Asia-Pacific region is already experiencing its adverse impacts. Studies suggest that the costs of inaction on reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, the main source of climate change, would be many times the costs of action. This report stresses the need to take decisive steps quickly to get the developing countries in this region on course to make inroads in the global effort to combat climate change and achieve sustainable development and green growth.
Over the past few years, energy security and sustainable development have moved up the global agenda. There are two main reasons for this: first, the impact of high and often volatile energy prices; second, concerns over environmental sustainability and particularly about the global climate. Both issues are critically important for Asia and the Pacific—a region in which impressive economic growth has boosted the demand for energy and put corresponding strains on the environment.