Addressing Climate Change in Asia: How Companies Are Taking the Lead
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries committed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of our collective response to the threats posed by climate change, aiming to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius. These national commitments are particularly important in Asia, which is a powerhouse of global economic growth and accounts for the largest regional share of GHG emissions. Countries in South and Southeast Asia are also among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change impacts, which disrupt economies, destroy communities, reduce food and water security, and threaten lives and livelihoods every year.
Seeing these impacts, private sector leaders in the region have embraced the business and economic case for ambitious climate action. As examples:
- In the energy sector, multinational corporations have pledged to fuel their operations with 100 percent renewable energy in the coming years.
- In the forestry sector, companies have committed to move toward net zero deforestation in key commodity supply chains by 2020.
- In food production, agribusiness leaders have pledged to make 50 percent more food available while reducing GHG emissions 50 percent by 2030.
Regional and global markets are increasingly calling for sustainable products and services, and leading banks and investors are beginning to develop “climate smart” strategies.
The Power of Public-Private Sector Collaboration on Climate
In Asia’s dynamic markets, however, companies face multiple challenges to achieve their climate-smart goals. At the same time, national and subnational governments are seeking financing to scale up clean energy deployment and sustainable land use management. As a result, public and private sector leaders are missing opportunities to meet their respective targets, reduce climate risks, support local job creation, and foster greater societal health and economic wellbeing. Looking ahead to 2018, when the world will take stock of our collective progress under the Paris Agreement, the time is right to identify opportunities for greater public-private sector collaboration.
In March, the USAID Climate Economic Analysis for Development, Investment, and Resilience (CEADIR) Activity partnered with the Asia Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Partnership and other key donors to convene nearly 200 leaders from corporations, financial institutions, investment groups, enterprises, and governments in the region to do just that – identify emerging strategies, opportunities, and priorities to achieve both corporate and country climate-smart goals. It was the first time that top public and private sector leaders came together at a regional level to discuss what country climate change commitments mean for the private sector and how those targets can and will create new investment opportunities for clean energy development and low-emission agriculture and forestry in Asia.
The recommendations were impressive. Corporate leaders identified specific actions that governments can take in India, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and other key markets to accelerate private sector investment that’s in line with country climate change targets. Policy-makers and businesses, banks, and investors forged new relationships and made commitments to align public and private sector action. The regional peer sharing and learning that occurred – between top corporate executives working to increase their investments and top government officials working to enable it – reinforced the urgency of collective action to achieve our collective goals.
The full recommendations will be available soon and highlighted in a CEADIR Series webinar on May 25 (Scaling Up Private Sector Investment and Finance for Sustainable Landscapes in Asia) and a deep-dive workshop on June 5 at the Asia Clean Energy Forum. Please join us for these events to share your experiences and perspectives. It is only through learning and collaborating with each other that will we make the important progress needed to accelerate investment and finance for climate action.