Only with absolute unity and unerring resolving can the region navigate the five critical stepping stones of transitioning to Net Zero.

As the largest and most populous region on the planet, the Asia Pacific region is especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Governments and corporations worldwide have recognized the gravity of the situation. Grand strategies, commitments, and roadmaps are being churned out fast and furious. But, as always, the devil is in the details.

The regulatory support and political will required to achieve these goals are still lacking. Yet, we are still seeing developments in the energy industry that are stalling the region’s energy transition progress, such as India’s invocation of an emergency law to maximize coal-fired power generation. This signals that we are far from where we need to be. 

So, how do we track, measure, and hold ourselves accountable for our progress? According to eleven predetermined energy priorities from the Global Energy Transition Readiness Index Report, the world needs to act on five critical actions today.

Thorbjörn Fors, Senior Vice President & Managing Director (Asia Pacific), Siemens Energy

The five stepping stones to Net Zero

For the energy transition to succeed, renewable sources of energy must be massively increased worldwide.

    1. The first critical action would be to accelerate renewables. The share of renewable energies in APAC needs to increase four to 10 times compared with that in 2020. However, this can only be achieved if the framework conditions are right; regulatory barriers are lowered; and access to large quantities of materials is guaranteed.
    2. Secondly, improving energy efficiency is crucial. The increase in energy demand due to economic growth and population increase has counteracted positive strides made to reduce emissions, resulting in an overall increase in global emissions. Therefore, one of the most important tasks is to conserve energy wherever possible. This effort will also require greater electrification of industrial processes and transport.
    3. Thirdly, we need to strengthen the electrical grid. The increasing share of renewable energy and increasing electrification require more robust grids that will not only serve an entire country’s needs but also empower regional collaboration in meeting the demand for sustainable energy. However, this resource-intensive undertaking poses a significant challenge, particularly in developing countries, where power systems are subject to frequent outages and grid instabilities.
    4. Fourthly, we must leverage our existing infrastructure as a bridge for the energy transition. We need massive investments to get to Net zero, and we cannot afford to overlook every single possible avenue, including those based on conventional technologies. Existing infrastructure acts as a bridge for us to gradually transition to less carbon-intensive modes of energy production.
    5. 5. Finally, we need to get a handle on the supply chain and the necessary minerals. More materials and minerals are needed for the energy transition, and since 2010, the average amount of minerals needed for a new unit of power generation capacity has increased by 50%. This is a significant challenge, and we need to find ways to ensure that we have access to the necessary minerals without harming the environment or relying on unethical labor practices.

All gauntlets on deck

The energy transition is a challenging but necessary process that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. Governments and corporations need to translate their grand strategies, commitments, and roadmaps into regulatory and political support for the energy transition.

These challenges are about more than one individual company. We cannot do this alone. Thankfully, the growing Alliance for Industrial Decarbonization is the international, multi-stakeholder platform that is enabling exchange and collaboration to tackle the decarbonization of the industrial sector.

Nevertheless, achieving the goals of rapid energy transition will not be easy. It requires political will, regulatory support, and significant investment. But the alternative is a future that is bleak and uncertain. If APAC is to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the time to get real and act is NOW.