Jakarta – Still in the series of activities of the National Meeting of Communities and Civil Society Organizations entitled Realizing a Fair, Inclusive and Transformative Energy Transition in Indonesia in Central Jakarta. Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia brought together experts and stakeholders, including community representatives, to explore the opportunities and challenges of energy transition within ASEAN through the Session 3 Panel discussion entitled “Advancing a Just and Sustainable Energy Transition in ASEAN” on June 22, 2023.

The session, which was hosted by Marlystia Citraningrum, Sustainable Energy Access Program Manager, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), presented Aldilla Noor Rakhiemah, Senior Researcher of Climate Change and Energy Project, ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), Mumu Muhajir, founder of Ranang Institute and Andri Prasetiyo, researcher of Senik Centre Asia as discussion starters.

Aldilla opened the discussion by explaining the role of ACE as an intergovernmental organization within the ASEAN structure that represents the interests of 10 ASEAN Member States in the energy sector. ACE acts as a catalyst, providing a platform to share best practices, conduct research, and identify policy and technology solutions for the energy sector in the region.

Aldilla highlighted the ASEAN Action Plan for Energy Cooperation (APAEC), a blueprint that guides ACE’s work to enhance energy connectivity, market integration and achieve energy security, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability. APAEC’s focus on safety, accessibility, and affordability aligns with a just energy transition concept. Aldilla emphasized that the renewable energy and emissions reduction targets set by APAEC for 2025 still need to be fully achieved, indicating the need for increased efforts to accelerate achievements in these areas.

Mumu Muhajir discussed lessons from the sub-theme of early retirement of coal-fired power plants within the framework of the Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) and Just Energy Transition Principles (JETP). Mumu said that Indonesia has implemented JETP in the ASEAN region, while countries such as South Africa have adopted the same scheme. However, the funding mechanisms for these initiatives are different, with South Africa relying more on loans than grants.

Mumu raised ethical concerns regarding the current mechanisms in place for the energy transition. She questioned why industries that contribute to environmental degradation receive financial assistance while there is little compensation for affected communities and damaged ecosystems. Mumu emphasized the importance of considering the “polluter pays” principle, imposing sanctions, and compensating affected districts when planning a just energy transition. He noted the need to treat fossil fuels as hazardous materials and ensure a phase-out of fossil fuels in line with adequate compensation measures.

Andri Prasetiyo provided insights into Southeast Asia’s energy transition concepts, opportunities, and critical considerations. He highlighted the significant presence of coal-fired power plants in developed and developing countries. He discussed the financing dynamics in ASEAN, particularly the sizable loans compared to grants provided by countries such as China.

Andri emphasized the importance of ensuring that energy transition initiatives do not rely solely on new debt but also incorporate grants and concessional financing to support a just energy transition. He pointed out that while institutions such as the World Bank fund coal-related projects, the focus should shift toward renewable energy. Andri emphasized the need for participatory governance and clean processes that include clean energy sources and clean and transparent project development.

The panel discussion highlighted the challenges and opportunities associated with achieving a just and sustainable energy transition in ASEAN. The speakers underlined the need for greater regional cooperation and the importance of aligning financing mechanisms with environmental and social issues.

Author: Raudatul Jannah
Reviewer: Aryanto Nugroho