SE Asia power plants seen clash­ing with UN cli­mate goals

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - International Business - OC­TO­BER 19, 2018

AL­MOST 84pc of South­east Asia’s planned and ex­ist­ing fos­sil fuel power plants are in­com­pat­i­ble with fu­ture sce­nar­ios that avoid cat­a­strophic dam­age from cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to a new study from the Univer­sity of Ox­ford.

The re­port, which comes on the heels of a ma­jor United Na­tions-backed study of the im­pacts of global tem­per­a­tures ris­ing 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius, is based on anal­y­sis of the amount of car­bon ex­pected to be emit­ted over the life­span of the plants. Those es­ti­mates are then com­pared to how much car­bon can be re­leased with­out the planet reach­ing cer­tain tem­per­a­ture-in­crease lim­its.

The Ox­ford study un­der­scores chal­lenges fac­ing pol­i­cy­mak­ers in gov­ern­ment and fi­nance about what kind of power tech­nolo­gies to sup­port, es­pe­cially in South­east Asia, where de­vel­op­ing na­tions are seek­ing to bring elec­tric­ity and wealth to grow­ing pop­u­la­tions with­out ex­ac­er­bat­ing cli­mate change.

The anal­y­sis will al­low gov­ern­ments and in­vestors to as­sess whether plants align with cli­mate goals, said Ben Calde­cott, one of the study’s au­thors and found­ing di­rec­tor of the Ox­ford Sus­tain­able Fi­nance Pro­gramme.

“We are mov­ing away from a sit­u­a­tion where groups can make un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims about how their as­sets or in­vest­ments are aligned with cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion or the Paris agree­ment,” Calde­cott said, re­fer­ring to the 2015 ac­cord among nearly 200 na­tions. “We can now ver­ify and eval­u­ate such claims ob­jec­tively and trans­par­ently, and this is es­sen­tial if we are to move the power sec­tor, and in­deed other sec­tors, to­wards net-zero car­bon emis­sions.”

Pow­er­ing de­vel­op­ment De­vel­op­ing na­tions, par­tic­u­larly in Asia, have been a fo­cus in the de­bate over en­ergy and cli­mate change. Re­cent cli­mate-friendly pol­icy re­vi­sions by Ja­panese banks, among the big­gest fi­nan­cial back­ers of coal power, drew scru­tiny from ad­vo­cacy group Mar­ket Forces, which es­ti­mated plants in Viet­nam, Mon­go­lia and Botswana that the banks sup­port wouldn’t be el­i­gi­ble for fi­nanc­ing un­der their new rules.

And when HSBC Hold­ings Plc an­nounced in April it would stop fi­nanc­ing coal power plants, it in­cluded “very tar­geted ex­cep­tions” in Bangladesh, In­done­sia and Viet­nam. The bank has a three-year part­ner­ship with Ox­ford Univer­sity and funds ac­tiv­i­ties that sup­port the aims of the sus­tain­able fi­nance pro­gramme, ac­cord­ing to Zoe Knight, manag­ing di­rec­tor of HSBC Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Fi­nance. Thurs­day’s re­port was sup­ported by a grant from the bank.

About 88pc of ex­ist­ing and 56pc of planned fos­sil fuel power plants, in­clud­ing gas-fired fa­cil­i­ties, in South­east Asia don’t meet the emis­sions thresh­olds for keep­ing global tem­per­a­tures within 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius of pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, Calde­cott said. About 18pc of ex­ist­ing and 47pc of planned units are in­com­pat­i­ble with a less-strin­gent goal of keep­ing tem­per­a­ture rise within two de­grees. Viet­nam, which has the re­gion’s largest fleet of fos­sil fuel-fired as­sets, has al­most 87pc of its 314 cur­rent and planned plants in­com­pat­i­ble with a 1.5-de­gree sce­nario, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Half of the plants don’t meet the 2-de­gree thresh­old and 20pc not even a 3-de­gree limit.

“This high­lights the scale of pre­ma­ture clo­sures re­quired to meet cli­mate change ob­jec­tives and the po­ten­tial for sig­nif­i­cant as­set strand­ing in the fu­ture,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port. – Bloomberg

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