Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are already raising their climate commitments to meet the Paris Agreement aspiration of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The ASEAN Green Future project is working with them to further boost their decarbonisation ambition.

The ASEAN Green Future project is a collaboration between the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Climateworks Australia, the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, and five national research groups from across Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Thailand). Phase 1 has been generously supported by Harold Mitchell AC. The project aims to demonstrate how sustainable, decarbonized economies offer enhanced economic development and more resilient futures for the region. It also acknowledges actions already underway and the need for financing and support.

Phase 1 of the ASEAN Green Future project was produced through a synthesis of existing research and knowledge, and culminates the existing economic and technical case for decarbonization in the region, highlighting knowledge gaps to fill in Phase 2. Phase 1 includes reports of each country team (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Thailand), as well as a regional report, which are all currently available online after being published alongside COP26 in November of 2021.

The country reports present the national commitments and efforts undertaken to date and examine key technology and policy opportunities to further advance domestic climate action. The regional report builds on these country reports and other studies to situate the region’s path toward a low-carbon transition within a global context.

Key findings include:

  • The ASEAN region has a critical role to play and has demonstrated strong commitments toward global climate action, despite its current rapidly growing emissions.
  • The goals of the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved without simultaneous planning for significant contributions from agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU), as well as energy systems.
  • Four “pillars of decarbonization” can guide planning across the region: 
    • Decarbonize electricity generation
    • Shift from fossil fuels to electricity or other clean energy alternatives
    • Reduce energy waste in buildings, transport, and industrial sectors
    • Preserve and increase natural carbon sinks
  • Accelerating climate action in line with the 1.5°C global goal is both possible and economically desirable.
  • The rapid transformation needed in the ASEAN region won’t happen without significant international support, and ASEAN member states must strengthen facilitative investment mechanisms.
  • The ASEAN region can fast track the low-carbon transition by collaborating to identify and address common challenges, thus strengthening its global position.