In December, the world’s leading politicians will convene in Paris to discuss climate change, and try to negotiate a framework that will carry us forwards towards global energy sustainability. After the disaster of Copenhagen in 2009, not many observers will be holding their breath for too long. But have the intervening six years seen a significant attitudinal shift about climate change?
“We are heading in the right direction to end energy poverty,” said Anita Marangoly George, senior director of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice upon the release of Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015 in May. “But we are still far from the finish line.”
Far indeed. The report revealed that 1.1 billion people around the world still live without electricity and almost 3 billion are cooking with fuels such as kerosene, wood and charcoal that are harmful to the users’ health. Although the share of modern renewable energy (from sources including hydro, solar and wind energy) grew rapidly at 4 percent a year between 2010 and 2012, this rate would have to rise to 7.5 percent in order to meet the goal of universal access to sustainable energy by 2030. Modern renewables only constituted 8.8 percent of total global energy consumption in 2012.
In our second issue of ASEAN Forum, we look at the way that people across the region are addressing the need for renewable energy.
One woman stands head and shoulders above the rest. Dr Wandee Khunchornyakong runs 36 solar photovoltaic farms in northeast Thailand that produced 250MW of installed capacity at the end of 2014. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognised her under its Momentum for Change: Women for Results scheme at the climate change conference held in Lima last December for “activities that demonstrate the critical leadership and participation of women in addressing climate change.”
We tell the remarkable story of how she conquered initial opposition to her visionary proposals for solving her country’s energy problems. We also consider the potential for biogas in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as looking at some novel approaches to clean energy, such as environmentally friendly char-briquettes and solar-powered tuk tuks.
When Lord Puttnam of Queensgate visited Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia in March, he was accused of naivety and advised to return to the House of Lords by one veteran reporter. We meet the former producer of the Killing Fields and the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to these countries and Vietnam in the House of Lords, where he explains his optimism for the future of the region he loves.
One area which demonstrates the great potential for the region is tourism. Joanna Mayhew talks to Cambodia’s deputy general director of tourism as well as industry professionals about the surge of tourism arrivals to the country. Elsewhere we assess whether the ambitious plans for a railway route from China to Singapore are on track, and what are the implications for the development of the region, as well as looking at the surge of low-cost airlines into Cambodia.
With palm sugar production, the human resource challenge that will accompany the integrated region, handy travel apps and luxury spas for the jaded business professional, we trust that you find ASEAN Forum your essential guide to doing business in the region.
Mark Bibby Jackson
Editorial Director ASEAN Forum