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How Asia Can Achieve a Just Energy Transition in a Post-COVID World

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Many countries in Asia have been recently battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its more contagious Delta variant. We are witnessing how gross inequalities in the region have made it difficult for our fragile health care systems to respond to the pandemic, and our economies to recover.

Asian economies are no stranger to crises and economic shocks; we rebounded from the Asian financial crisis and other setbacks. Yet, COVID-19 caused 32 out of 45 economies in the region to suffer from negative growth in 2020. Moreover, emerging economies like Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand are not projected to recover their pre-pandemic growth rates until at least 2022 or beyond.

Unemployment is on the rise as 81 million jobs across the Asia-Pacific region were lost in 2020 alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not everyone is affected equally; some may be able to bounce back while others are left behind. The International Labor Organization (ILO) observed that COVID-driven job losses affected women and young workers most severely. The Asia-Pacific’s travel and tourism sector — where the majority of the workforce is female — was the hardest hit in the world with a 53.7 percent drop in its contribution to GDP.

Challenges to our economic systems continue to rise and further worsen inequalities in the region. This is especially concerning for a challenge that is already emerging as a clear and present danger to us all: the climate crisis.

Asia Is a Climate Vulnerable Region

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Six out of the 10 countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events are in Asia — and the risk and impacts are only going to get worse, the world’s leading climate scientists of the IPCC warned last month.

As a fast-growing region, energy demand in Asia will triple in the next decade, but despite a drastic drop in the cost of clean energy and the technology being widely available, coal continues to rise.........

© The Diplomat

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