In Asia, climate change and economic uncertainty can be addressed together
- As Asian economies face recession worries, many are putting climate action on the back burner – but climate resilience goes hand in hand with economic stability
- Setting ambitious energy and sustainability targets supports green growth
As Asia faces a worsening global economic outlook, tackling climate change must be a core part of the region’s economic strategy – to drive growth, protect the vulnerable, and rebuild economies on solid ground.
To rebuild Asia’s economies on stronger foundations, sustainability efforts need to be redoubled and married with kitchen-table economics, with governments prioritising policies and businesses pursuing opportunities that both support economic recovery and advance climate goals.
More frequent and intense weather events and sea level rise will affect the lives of coastal communities and damage critical infrastructure.
As a global recession looms large and budgets dwindle, what should governments and businesses prioritise? The complexity of the problem means there are no silver bullet solutions, but several actions stand out.
Still, more consistent reporting standards and capacity building for smaller companies to disclose their carbon footprint will be needed. Stimulus policies should offer tax incentives and increase credit access for small businesses that foster sustainability.
Second, international cooperation is essential. China’s promise to end funding for overseas coal-fired plants and cooperation in reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions have aided climate progress. Japan’s role in fostering higher sustainability standards in trade agreements is another bright spot.
These companies committed to drawing up concrete pathways to net zero, in line with the latest scientific evidence and recommendations and consistent with their organisational commitments. Many are focused on reducing the carbon intensity of their existing operations.
They agreed to work towards effective climate and sustainability governance, including ensuring transparency and accountability through climate- and nature-related financial disclosures in line with global standards. Doing so will enable businesses to set the right objectives, as well as collect more accurate data and identify weak links.
They agreed to leverage private capital to accelerate sustainable finance to deliver mitigation and adaptation outcomes as well as climate and natural capital solutions. With energy security and affordability concerns at the forefront, public-private partnerships to transition to sustainable energy and production will be needed.
Similarly, Asia will need to catalyse critical breakthroughs in climate technologies, to make bigger strides for its own long-term interest.
Asian countries need to work individually and together to catch up on lost time, overcoming differences in stages of development and capacity for action. Urgent and scalable measures will be needed to put both economic growth and climate action in Asia back on course.
Janet Pau is executive director of the Asia Business Council