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Southeast Asia has a central role in global climate fight


Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, continues to rely heavily on polluting fossil fuels for electricity generation. Vattenfall-operated coal-fired power plant in Lippendorf, Germany. Photo: Peter Endig/EPA 

Southeast Asia's huge and growing demand for energy will set the tone for the global fight against climate change, the United Nations climate chief said March 1, and the region needs to plan energy investments carefully or risk higher health costs, more damage from extreme weather and loss of competitiveness, according to The Straits Times on March 2.

Countries such as Myanmar and Thailand will see a major growth in electricity generation. The forecast is that this will nearly triple in the region between 2011 and 2035, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says, with fossil fuels like coal – rather than cleaner alternatives - providing most of the energy.

With a population of 600 million, nearly twice that of the United States, and about 130 million people without electricity, Southeast Asia faces an immense challenge to meet energy demands in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner.

Myanmar looks to fill its growing needs largely through coal, gas and hydropower.

Ms Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told The Straits Times that 65 percent of the global growth in energy consumption is going to come from Southeast Asia.

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