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Southeast Asia took the high road to growth and development before the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The region’s industrial as well as economic growth was splendid, all industries from manufacturing to servicing flourished! Dealing and recovering from the effects of the pandemic may seem to be a long and time-consuming process. Considering the increased benefits of clean energy, increased investments in the same may help Southeast Asian countries restart their economic recovery and progress the region’s clean energy transition.
Southeast Asia Requires A Green Recovery From COVID-19 For The Following Reasons
The COVID-19 pandemic, for starters, has demonstrated the close relationship between the environment and public health. According to a new study, practically every known pandemic, including COVID-19, is caused by animal germs that spread to people through interaction with wildlife and cattle. Southeast Asia’s rapidly expanding cities, as well as the region’s escalating deforestation and forest degradation, render it particularly vulnerable to future pandemics.
Second, the region must resume its fight against climate change, which was disrupted by the pandemic. A green recovery strategy would address the severe and worsening effects of climate change in Southeast Asia, as well as dwindling biodiversity. In the region, heat waves, droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones have become increasingly intense and common. The loss of biodiversity could have a significant influence on economic production due to its impact on company operations, supply chains, and markets.
Third, green stimulus programs can create far more jobs than fossil-fuel-related spending. For every $1 million spent on energy efficiency, 7.7 full-time employment opportunities are created, which is much greater than the 2.7 jobs created by the same amount of investment in fossil fuels. Investing in nature-based solutions can also result in a job-rich, robust economic rebound, as well as a multiplier effect in reaching the region’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Fourth, a green recovery can help Southeast Asia maintain its long-term competitiveness in a global market that is increasingly requiring green practices and products. Developing green practices would enable governments to comply with increasingly demanding environmental rules. Furthermore, switching to green products will help Southeast Asian manufacturers to capitalize on rising demand for low-carbon technology and products including smart grids, solar photovoltaics, and energy storage.
Benefits Of The Green Transition
Electricity Access To All People
The energy transformation will enable the Southeast Asian area to reach 100% electrification. Despite the fact that millions of new customers have acquired access to energy since 2000, 45 million people in Southeast Asia remain without power. Through low-carbon and flexible energy systems, far-flung communities can benefit from better healthcare and education services, improving their quality of life and widening access to opportunity in general.
Reduced Electricity Costs
Global coal and oil prices have been high even during the times of the pandemic. Electricity prices have always touched great heights in Southeast Asian countries. This contradiction can be partially resolved by changing the industry model and energy mix, that is, by transitioning away from huge power plants fueled by fossil fuels and toward distributed energy generation utilizing local, renewable sources.
Improving Energy System Resilience
The electric power systems of Southeast Asian countries currently follow the early twentieth-century model of centralized power generation, with huge generation facilities supplying end customers via transmission and distribution networks. However, in an area where typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanoes frequently damage transmission and distribution networks, this has caused issues for ensuring a reliable electricity supply. The distributed renewable energy systems are perfect for Southeast Asian countries as they are concise, modular and small which reduces the need for long transmission lines that tend to get damaged in natural calamities.
Reducing Health Risks
Southeast Asia is the perfect example to portray the situation of increase in the number of deaths due to the vicious cycle of fossil fuels increasing air pollution leading to health risks. Moreover, air pollution and its effects can increase the intensity and the adversity of the COVID-19 disease. Efforts to reduce air pollution are part of a healthy pandemic recovery strategy. The move to a low-carbon or green energy system is a step toward cleaner air and a greener future.
The pandemic has been nature’s way of telling us that it is now time to look out for green and renewable solutions for a healthy and efficient economy. With the enactment of appropriate sustainable policies by the government, Southeast Asia could be back on the path of growth and recovery. By reinvesting in clean energy today, we can ensure a successful and progressive future for all.