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Within the debate surrounding the responsibilities of individual nations to address the challenges presented by climate change, one of the most significant elements is to be found in issues associated with the future makeup of the global energy sector. As the world is forced to shift its trajectory to a more sustainable future, the implications for the global energy sector are enormous. The first seminar of the series of conferences organised by Asia Centre and ASEF was dedicated to the significance and evolution of coal as an energy source in the world. The subsequent one covered global trends and prospects of fossil fuels vis-à-vis other sources of energy.
On the one hand, the economic development of Asia over the past two decades has seen the region emerge as a key player in the global energy sector. The way in which major Asian countries develop their respective energy sectors over the coming decades will play a critical role in the global community either succeeding or failing in its goal of addressing the issue of climate change.
On the other hand, the EU has been at the forefront of setting ambitious climate and energy targets over the past decade. Yet, as global negotiations enter a critical period, European countries are now challenged to stir a global deal that will be favourable to having the world’s developing countries take up a transition to a more environmentally-friendly energy mix.
Responding to the priorities of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) leaders, Asia Centre and ASEF have developed a two-year programme on energy and climate change, which was initiated in June 2014 in Beijing and was followed by another two events. The Paris conference is the closing event of the conference series. As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly acute and the centrality of the energy sector within the crisis continues to be further examined, the programme seeks to identify common challenges and provide a platform for both regions to share their perspectives on the issue. While Asia Centre and ASEF have largely focused their attention on the energy issue, which will take up one out of our two conference days in Paris, some of the most salient issues faced by Asian developing countries, such as climate change adaptation, resource and disaster risk management, will also have its place on the programme and will be discussed on Day 2.
Less than two months away from the COP21 conference in Paris, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will be under scrutiny as well as the foreseeable geopolitical context within which all parties will be negotiating. Our final debate on Wednesday, 30 September, will aim to approach the UNFCCC from a broader angle, analyse and discuss its modus operandi and explore the solutions that have been deployed so far outside of this framework. This debate will build on the speakers’ contributions from the round tables taking place in the morning of the same day (Round Table 1: Emissions trading, market mechanisms and regulation – Round Table 2: Players – Round Table 3: Resource Management – Round Table 4: Risk management). Our final session will therefore gather conclusions from our four technical round tables, while revisiting the scope and limits of international negotiations as the expected platform to achieve global action.