Asia and the Pacific together comprise a large, diverse and dynamic region, with 4.7 billion people living in countries ranging from the world’s largest energy consumer to small island economies that are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The region accounts for more than half of global energy consumption, with 85% of that regional consumption sourced from fossil fuels. Electrification rates have improved substantially over the past decade and the regional electrification rate reached 96.6 per cent in 2019.
However, based on UNESCAP data, 157 million people lacked access to electricity across the region, a significant decline from 545 million people in 2010. Many more continue to rely on traditional biomass (such as burning wood) for cooking and heating. Only 65% of the population have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. Poor indoor air quality contributed to an estimated 2.8 million premature deaths in 2016. Women and children often bear the additional burden of fuel gathering, reducing the time available for education and livelihoods.
Demand for energy is rising thanks to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, and considerable opportunities exist to avoid locking in carbon-based energy technologies for the long term. Alongside vast renewable energy potential, the region already possesses significant knowledge and expertise on renewables.
As a proportion of total final energy consumption, the share of modern renewable energy is rapidly rising, reaching more than 8.5% in 2018. The largest gains are in the power sector, where in 2018 the renewable share of total electricity output was 22.1%, having grown steadily from 16.1% in 2010.
Making the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy future will require a clear vision and strong commitment from governments.