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Energy markets are not changing fast enough to avert climate change

A World Economic Forum study has revealed a plateau in the transition of energy markets; Asia ranks poorly in an index that measures the shift to sustainable energy systems.

A report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed that while most countries are making some progress to shift to more sustainable energy systems, the pace is insufficient to keep climate change in check.

Asian countries rank poorly in the Energy Transition Index (ETI) of the study, with Singapore leading the region in 12th position, Malaysia in 15th, but most South and Southeast Asian countries languishing from 50th to 70th position.

The ETI ranks countries based on the current performance of their energy system on three fronts – energy security and access, the environmental sustainability of the system, and the potential for inclusive economic growth and development. It also ranks a country’s potential to transition to a low-carbon energy future.

Among those three dimensions, environmental sustainability showed the lowest performance and improvement rates.

Between 2013 and 2018, 45 countries including Japan, China and India saw decreasing scores for environmental sustainability. This is due to rising air pollution and particulate emissions in more than half of the countries, causing around six million premature deaths globally each year, the report noted.

Energy intensity—a measure of the energy efficiency of a country’s economy—has improved and driven progress in environmental sustainability. Decreasing energy intensity and improving efficiency are two of the key levers to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement, reported WEF.

However, the current energy productivity improvement rate of 1.8 per cent per annum is falling short. The Energy Transitions Commission estimated that a reduction rate of three per cent per annum is required to limit global warming to below 2°C.