Opening Remarks at Asian and Pacific Energy Forum – Senior Officials Segment

Delivered at UNCC in Bangkok, Thailand

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,

Welcome to ESCAP and to the Second Asian and Pacific Energy Forum or APEF. I would like to thank the Ministry of Energy of the Kingdom of Thailand for co-hosting the meeting.

The APEF is the only institutionalized ministerial level platform dedicated to energy in our region. The inaugural APEF held in 2013 in Vladivostok, led to agreement on priority actions and an implementation plan. It also provided a mandate for ESCAP to support implementation, report on progress made towards the agreed course and discuss how to shape future priorities.

Much has changed in the five years since this meeting last convened. Most of all, the 2030 Agenda has recognized the nexus between energy and poverty eradication, climate change, and its role in enhancement of productivity. The vision of “leave no one behind” cannot be realized without the Sustainable Development Goal 7 on sustainable energy that calls for universal access, diversification and reduction in intensity of use.

Achievements on energy transformation have been impressive, but more action is urgently needed to set the region on track to a sustainable energy future. There are three areas on which I would like to focus.

First, progress in broadening electricity access is evident, as electrification rates rose from 70 per cent of the region’s population in 1990, to 90 per cent today. The last mile task of getting electricity to 10 per cent of our region’s population requires connecting 420 million people. Our task is further complicated as only 50 per cent of people in this region can access clean fuels, the second lowest rate among all regions.

Second, there has been encouraging growth in deployment of renewable energy technology as costs decline and confidence in the sector grows. For several years, investments in renewables have exceeded those in fossil fuel. Asia-Pacific has shown its global leadership as the principal manufacturer, producer and market for renewable power systems. Demonstrating this, in 2016, just two countries in this region - China and India - deployed over 94 gigawatts of renewable power, 59 per cent of the global total. Notwithstanding this progress, the share of renewable energy in the energy mix is not increasing. Augmenting existing efforts will help extend renewable applications into other energy use sectors such as transport and heating.

Third, the steep decline in energy intensity - a fall from 9.1 Megajoules per dollar of GDP in 1990 to 6.0 in 2014 is converging the region with the 2014 global average of 5.4 Megajoules per dollar of GDP. Yet Asia-Pacific remains the most energy intensive region in the world. Continued progress in energy efficiency is far from certain, as 16 of the region’s economies worsened their energy intensity between 2012 and 2014.

ESCAP’s projections lend us confidence that gaps can be addressed, and the SDG targets are achievable. Together, we can set our economies on the pathway to sustainable energy. Our analysis shows that with the right policy approaches, we can bend the curve on energy efficiency by 2030, reducing energy demand by a quarter below business-as-usual projections; and bringing the share of renewable energy above 20 per cent. This requires sustained political will, finance and technology approaches, together with smart business models for rural electrification and clean cooking systems. The renewable energy potential of the region is often best exploited through cross-border power connection using multilateral approaches. Regional cooperation should also be used to expand finance; ensure technology and capacity transfer; and to share successful policies.

Your discussions will lay the groundwork for cooperation to foster energy transition in our region. The deliberations on the proposed Ministerial Declaration and the Regional Roadmap for Connectivity will feed into the negotiations of the Ministers. Both documents will form the regional input to the 2018 High Level Political Forum, with the theme “Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies”. We look forward to working with you towards a successful outcome.

Your task to find regional solutions to the energy challenges and opportunities each country faces is not an easy one. But our future prosperity, wellbeing and the health of our planet depends on it. The ESCAP secretariat stands with you as a long-term partner on this journey.

Thank you.