Humankind is currently faced with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis – and it isn’t over until we draw the right conclusion and stop repeating the failures of the past. Governments around the world are trying to prepare for the worst impacts yet to come and while in the midst of managing acute symptoms of the Corona-crisis, governments are also working on economic stimulus and recovery programs to avoid a collapse of the national – and global – economy.
The resurgence of conservative forces – a function of changing fuel economics due to a rapid decline in oil prices and energy demand during the COVID epidemic – coupled with the economic pressure being faced by governments on issues such as jobs, energy security, and local value creation, threaten to stifle a just and sustainable energy transition and undermine climate efforts to-date. This backsliding cannot be allowed to happen. We cannot afford to let short-term economic responses undermine longer-term climate and development objectives. The risk is not only reducing the pace of the global energy transition. The risk is undoing the progress of the past several years, locking the world into a high-carbon trajectory that is not compliant with the Paris Agreement. We need to use the momentum from the COVID-pandemic to ensure that political and economic responses focus on economic growth built on the back of sustainability and with strategic support to green growth sectors. In the post-COVID paradigm, the competing priorities will leave less space for public discourse on the energy transition.
Hence, legislators must establish policy frameworks and incentives for matured renewable energy technologies to deliver at speed and scale. Further, emerging technologies that will be essential for fully decarbonizing energy sectors in the coming decades need critical support as the infrastructure of 2050 is built now. These include storage technologies, green hydrogen electrolyses, renewable energy-based cooking technologies, electric vehicles, and others. Therefore, it is crucial to increase R&D funding for renewables and other clean energy technologies considerably. The GRC has published a policy paper on this in May 2020.
In this critical situation, members of parliament of Southeast Asia have joined forces in solidarity to draft and sign a regional manifesto committed to ensuring a just and sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19. This initiative is led by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a network of more than one hundred lawmakers in Southeast Asia, and supported by the GRC.
The manifesto lists the recommended steps to take to ensure economic recovery plans:
- Address the climate crisis,
- Include financial incentives to renewable energy systems and zero-emissions infrastructures,
- Boost employment and workers’ protection,
- Boost economic growth through investments in a green and resilient economy,
- Address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on those most vulnerable.
You may find the link to the manifesto here for your information.
Southeast Asian legislators are cordially invited to join this initiative as a manifesto signatory. It will be presented on 19th November in the Malaysian parliament.