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Phasing out coal in Asia-Pacific region

Every scenario that successfully achieves climate targets includes a significant reduction in coal consumption. As the fuel with the largest carbon footprint, coal is predominantly utilized in the electricity production industry, wherein renewable energy options emerge as the most affordable new sources in the majority of markets. Thus, one of the most crucial steps toward accomplishing the goal of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5°C is the gradual elimination of coal from the energy sector. Let’s see the progression within the Asia-Pacific region and explore the requisite support for this transition.


The coal consumption in the Asia-Pacific region is continuously on the rise. In 2020, coal-fired power generation alone produced 90% of the region's share, which accounted for 62% of the total global emissions from the power industry. Currently, countries in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and India, play a substantial role in cementing fossil fuel dependence among poorer nations within the region. Therefore, it becomes imperative for these aforementioned countries to focus on their financial and other development support toward the transformation to clean energy as well as the shift of investments in the energy system.


Government-led economic stimulus plans need to prioritize green recovery as a fundamental component. This requires an emphasis on allocating public funds and incentivizing private investment toward the development of renewable energy, associated with technology and infrastructure. For example, the project implemented in the small town of Osakikamijima is paramount to Japan's objective in safely attaining energy security while leveraging economic and environmental efficiency. As the country relies on coal for nearly one-third of its power generation, the project is funded by the government with 49 billion yen ($384 million) to lessen the environmental harm caused by coal combustion. The spinning one was tested at the Osaki plant by heating coal and generating gas through oxygen blowing. This has enabled a 15% increase in efficiency, contributing to the decline in both the amount of coal consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The success executed by Osaki researchers can also be perceived as adequate and suitable for commercial use.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region should be aware of the gap between their current progress and the benchmarks stated in the Paris Agreement concerning the phase-out of coal and the acceleration in transitioning to clean energy. Moreover, it is equally vital to examine the overview of policy areas, including best exemplary practices in other regions, to bridge this gap more seamlessly. The gradual elimination of coal stands as the most pivotal measure to get in line with the 1.5°C target. Achieving this aim hence calls for robust financing, comprehensive national policy, and escalated international cooperation to expedite the transformation.

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