KBR, Jakarta – The 43rd ASEAN Summit 2023 will be held in Jakarta on September 5-7, 2023. This event presents ASEAN state leaders but also several leaders of partner countries, including several world development institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.

With the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicenter of Growth,” in its Chairmanship this year, Indonesia is determined to direct ASEAN cooperation in 2023 to continue and strengthen ASEAN’s relevance in responding to regional and global challenges and strengthen ASEAN’s position as the center of regional economic growth, for the prosperity of the ASEAN people.

In several discussions covering the three main pillars of ASEAN, namely the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, one of the critical issues in the public spotlight is how ASEAN leaders concretely respond to the impacts of climate change.

Mouna Wasef, a researcher of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia, said that the Southeast Asian region is more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Geographically, for example, most of the population is in coastal and island areas, at risk of rising sea levels. The intensity of floods, typhoons, and disasters caused by extreme weather in the region has also tended to increase in recent years.

ASEAN is at the forefront of climate risk (Global Climate Risk Index, 2021). Under a scenario of 2.3 degrees Celsius increase in average global temperature by 2050, 600 million Asians could potentially be hit by annual heat waves; 75 percent of potential economic losses from annual floods; and three or four times more extreme rainfall in parts of Asia, including the ASEAN region (McKinsey Global Institute, 2020).

ASEAN as a region could lose 37.4 percent of its current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2048 if climate change mitigation and energy transition are not undertaken (EU-ASEAN Business Council, 2021). Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand will lose economic output totaling more than seven times their GDP by 2050.

“With Indonesia’s GDP currently reaching IDR21,000 trillion (Fiscal Policy Agency, 2023), Indonesia will potentially lose IDR147,000 trillion if it does not mitigate climate change,” said Mouna.

The public’s high hopes and expectations of the outcome of the 43rd ASEAN Summit 2023 in responding to climate change issues must be accompanied by concrete deliverables and increased commitment to its implementation.

“Admittedly, there is still a lot of pessimism towards implementing ASEAN leaders’ commitments due to the principle of non-interference and respect for national sovereignty as inhibiting factors. In addition, the absence of an accountability mechanism for commitment documents is also a hindering factor,” Mouna explained.

ASEAN already has several commitment documents to address the impacts of climate change through accelerating the energy transition, including the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016 – 2025, ASEAN Energy Outlook 2017 – 2040, and ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change COP23. In the ASEAN Energy Cooperation Plan Phase II 2021-2025, there is a commitment to reduce 25% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Also, increase the share of renewable energy to 23% by 2025 of the total primary energy supply.

For this reason, Indonesia’s role as the 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship, as well as the largest democracy in the region, is very strategic to be able to direct and provide concrete examples and commitments to accelerate the implementation of the energy transition.

“We also urge ASEAN Leaders, especially the Government of Indonesia, to be able to provide more space for public involvement, including civil society organizations, academics, and journalists in several discussions related to energy transition in ASEAN forums,” said Mouna.

Questioning the Justice Aspect in Energy Transition
Regarding the issue of energy transition in the ASEAN 2023 framework, the Government of Indonesia said that in the first quarter, it agreed on the priority of strengthening energy security through the development of an electric vehicle ecosystem.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM), in his remarks at the Joint Opening of the 41st ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM-41) and the ASEAN Business Energy Forum (AEBF) in Bali, Thursday (24/8/), said that in the energy sector Indonesia will focus on the primary goal of sustainable energy security through interconnectivity, including increasing interconnectivity through the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) and ASEAN Power Grid (APG), as well as other inter-party commitments.

“However, the energy transition commitment, so far, has focused more on the technocratic aspects of reducing the use of fossil energy and accelerating the development of renewable energy but ignores aspects of justice, including gender justice and social inclusion as enabling factors to realize an equitable energy transition,” said Mouna.

Mouna explained that women and other vulnerable groups are often underrepresented in the energy sector regarding employment, leadership roles, energy access, decision-making, and policy development due to social norms, lack of education and training, and inadequate access to technology and finance.

In addition, marginalized and vulnerable communities have barriers to accessing energy services. Lack of access to energy services for vulnerable communities has the potential to perpetuate social and economic inequalities. Meanwhile, access to participation and engagement, particularly in policy planning and implementation, will help a just and inclusive energy transition.

Mouna reminded us that equity and social inclusion are fundamental to ensuring that no group of people is left behind and that vulnerable groups can access the opportunities created by the transition. The energy transition must be tailored to the local context in which it will ultimately occur (Climate Strategies, 2023).

“Tailoring energy transition planning and implementation to local needs and engaging communities, especially women, people with disabilities, the elderly, children, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized and vulnerable groups, early in the design phase is critical. A co-designed transition, especially for those affected and historically disadvantaged by bad mining practices, will increase the success of the transition and enable a more equitable and inclusive transition. ASEAN Leaders must grasp this to realize an equitable energy transition,” Mouna urged.

Mouna also urged that every ASEAN commitment document include and translate principles of justice such as leaving no one behind, sustainability and resiliency, recognition of human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and accountability.

Corruption Risks of Mineral Transitions
Not only aspects of justice, including gender justice and social inclusion, but aspects of transparency and accountability are also fundamental in implementing the energy transition. Several ASEAN countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, will face mineral transition governance challenges in developing renewable energy that requires a high supply of critical minerals such as nickel, lithium, cobalt, and manganese.

It is estimated that over the next two decades, the demand for minerals that form clean technology components such as nickel and cobalt will increase by 60-70%, lithium by 90%, and copper and rare earths by 40% (IEA, 2021).

Extractive industries have a long history of corruption and poor governance. Eradicating corruption along the supply chain is necessary to realize a just energy transition.

According to the OECD, the extractive industry is one of the highest-risk business sectors and accounts for one in every five transnational bribery cases. With the enormous economic benefits that can be extracted, critical minerals face the same corruption risks of state capture, PEPs, conflicts of interest, bribery, lack of public participation and oversight, and neglect of environmental damage.

“In this context, it can be a momentum to strengthen anti-corruption commitments in ASEAN, which is also still a big challenge,” concluded Mouna.

Civil Society Regional Meeting for Equitable Energy Transition
Civil society organizations and women from various ASEAN member countries will meet in Jakarta on 29-31 August 2023. This meeting aims to share views on justice in the energy transition from multiple countries.

Discuss challenges and opportunities for implementing an equitable energy transition, including gender justice. Formulate the role of civil society and women’s organizations in overseeing a just energy transition. The meeting is expected to increase cooperation between civil society in guarding a just energy transition, especially in the momentum of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in 2023.

Source: KBR.id