Southeast Asia’s Critical Position to the Energy Transition

As a region with a rapidly growing population and economy, Southeast Asia has an important role in energy transition to mitigate the impact of climate change. According to World Economic Forum, Southeast Asia region is known to be the world’s fourth-largest energy consumer with fossil fuel making 83% of its energy mix. With expected growing economies, Southeast Asia countries are also expected to increase their energy consumption rates. At the same time, the region is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, stronger typhoons, and longer droughts, making it important for them to address their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, several countries in the region have taken significant steps towards transitioning to renewable energy sources, such as Indonesia’s target of achieving a 23% share of renewables in its energy mix by 2025 and Thailand’s aim to increase its renewable energy capacity to 30% by 2036. By shifting towards sustainable energy sources like renewables, Southeast Asian countries can decrease their carbon footprint, mitigate climate change impacts, and enhance energy security. As developing nations, they have an opportunity to bypass traditional, fossil-fuel-based energy systems and jump directly to modern, low-carbon energy systems. The actions and policies of Southeast Asian countries towards energy transition could have a significant impact on the global fight against climate change and will contribute to the worldwide shift towards renewable energy sources. By promoting renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in sustainable infrastructure, Southeast Asia can contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change and mitigate its impact on the region’s environment and people.

However, there are still significant challenges to overcome because transitioning to net zero emissions is a complex and challenging process that requires different policies and approaches for each country based on their priorities. One key aspect is not relying on the use of coal power generation, which is a major source of emissions, while also improving the efficiency and deployment of low carbon technologies.

So far, many countries in the region have set renewable energy targets and implemented policies and incentives to encourage investment in renewable energy such as Thailand targets achieving 35% renewable energy in the energy mix by 2037, while Vietnam aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 15-20% by 2030. While Malaysia has implemented an energy efficiency scheme for the industrial sector, and Indonesia is implementing energy efficiency measures in buildings and transportation to reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Many countries in the region also have begun to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, which are often inefficient and environmentally damaging such as Malaysia increasing the price for RON95 gasoline that was subsidized. Another action that they have done is developing low-carbon transportation which includes Indonesia planning to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) to its transportation system, and Singapore implementing measures to promote the use of public transportation and reduce private car ownership.

Southeast Asia’s energy transition is crucial for mitigating the impact of climate change in the region. While the majority of the region still heavily relies on fossil fuels, several countries have taken steps towards adopting renewable energy sources. By continuing to promote renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and invest in sustainable infrastructure, Southeast Asia can make a significant contribution to global climate change mitigation while protecting its environment and people.

World Bank Group. (2021). Sustainable energy for all in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN Centre for Energy. (2021). ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2021-2025.

International Renewable Energy Agency. (2021). Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Southeast Asia.

United Nations Development Programme. (2021). Sustainable Energy.

International Renewable Energy Agency. (2019). The Renewable Energy Transition in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN Post. (2020). Southeast Asia’s Green Energy Transition.

World Economic Forum. (2023). Why Southeast Asia is critical to the global energy transition.

Bangkok Bank InnoHub. (2021). Thailand enters an age of renewable energy production and sustainability manufacturing.’s%20energy,reach%2014%2C864%20MW%20by%202037.

Related Articles