Countries across Asia are increasingly finding themselves torn meeting emissions reductions targets and meeting economic development goals, and in many cases are prioritising development over limiting emission.
Asia has 2,000GW of coal fired power plants that are either under construction or fully operational, with China and India increasing coal power generation by 4% and 13% respectively last year.
However, many of these are inefficient plants with decades left until the end of their live, which calls attention the question why are developed countries not helping those in Asia develop technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), to use coal in a clean and efficient way.
During UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, countries including Canada, Denmark and France formed an alliance to phase out the use of coal power generation before 2030. However, many of those that have signed up to this pledge have little to no coal production or consumption.
In response to this, the US has called for a global alliance made up of the world’s biggest coal consumers, including Japan, Australia and Vietnam, that would share carbon capture technologies with developing countries.
Earlier this year at CERAweek 2018, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said such an alliance would “help developing countries in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa create their own energy renaissance and harness more energy to improve the lives of their citizens. And that includes access to electricity.”
He said it was possible to achieve a zero-emissions world without “draining the growth out of our developed nations or dooming developing nations to a future of poverty and want,” he added: “You look those people in the eye and say, sorry you can’t have electricity because we’ve decided that fossil fuels are bad”.
Members of international agreements should not be forced to choose between achieving climate goals and leaving millions of people in poverty, when there are options to be investigated that can help achieve both.