Southeast Asia nations should phase out fossil fuel, says think-tank

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) in September said the Philippines and fellow climate-vulnerable countries in Southeast Asia (SEA) should follow the lead of neighboring East Timor in calling for a global treaty for the rapid and equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels.

East Timor along with Antigua and Barbuda issued official endorsements for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT) during the New York City Climate Action Week, which was held alongside the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit. The endorsement makes East Timor the first SEA country to join supporters of the treaty.

“In East Timor we see a nation that relies on oil production for a significant share of its revenues, yet looks beyond present-day money flows to assert the true costs of continued fossil fuel dependence: a more catastrophic climate future, and continued suffering of fossil fuel affected communities and host environments,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of CEED.

The FFNPT is a global pact primarily advocated for by Pacific Island nations which seeks to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C, and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. Last month, the state of California became the biggest economy to declare support for the treaty.

Arances said: “Today, Philippine coasts are being taken over by rising sea levels, hundreds of thousands suffer destruction from climate disasters each year, and we are forced to breathe in toxic air poisoned by fossil fuels. Volatile fuel prices also in no way assist our countrymen in recovering economically. 

“Such is also the case for Southeast Asia, which is massively expanding its use of gas. The only sound way forward for the Philippines and Southeast Asia is to break free from the grip of fossil fuels and hasten the maximization of renewable energy potentials.” 

CEED’s comment also comes just as the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its latest iteration of a net-zero pathway to keep the 1.5°C ambition within reach.

“Once again, the world is warned that the window left to keep global warming from going beyond 1.5°C continues to narrow rapidly, but we are also reminded that solutions are available here and now. 

“Displacing coal, gas, and oil with a rapid integration of sustainable renewable energy sources is capable of delivering not only the emission cuts necessary to avert worse climate changes, it will also assist in strengthening the resilience of communities most exposed to climate impacts and least benefited by existing fossil fuel-based energy.” 

Photo credit: iStock/ Wirestock

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