While moving to middle incomes but aiming to avoid a middle-income trap, countries' development is still based on energy consumption. High energy use has been found to be related to the human development index as seen in Fig. 10.3. In addition, high carbon intensity, particularly in electricity production, is still evident. Although renewable energy and energy efficiency policies have been implemented in many countries in Asia, there is room for improvement toward a low-carbon path, taking into account the fact that greenhouse gas emissions in 2035 for the whole of Asia will contribute almost 50 % of global emissions (Fig. 10.4).
Decoupling of GHG and GDP
Entering into a low-carbon pathway means driving the country's development with low emissions of greenhouse gases. Decoupling of CO2 emissions from GDP growth is one of the indicators showing that the path of development has to take low-carbon technology and activities into account (see Fig. 10.5). Many developing counties such as Japan, Germany, the USA, Australia, France and the UK have been through this disconnection while some prominent countries in Asia such as China, India, Malaysia and Thailand have not reached met the point of decoupling.
How Can Asia Leapfrog to a Low-Carbon Society?
In the situation of Asian development, green growth policies are promoted. However, looking back to the development from 1990 until 2010, as seen in Fig. 10.6,
Fig. 10.3 Relation of energy used and human development index (Source: ADB 2013)
Fig. 10.4 Future emission contributions of Asia (Source: ADB 2013)
Fig. 10.5 CO2 emissions and gross domestic product in selected countries (Source: The World Bank 2012)
real GDP growth has been increasing in parallel with CO2 emission increases. The growth rate and emission rate have increased sharply. Conversely, population growth has increased at a slower rate when compared to other parameters. The implication of this figure is shown in Table 10.1, where the GDP of ASEAN, particularly four countries in Asia (China, India, Japan and South Korea) in the next 15 years (until 2030) will cover 38 % of the global GDP, which will be increased by almost 10 % from 2010. This potential growth in GDP is from 47 % of the world population, where its share has been constant since 2010. These constant population shares will take responsibility for the increasing GDP development of the countries. Therefore the future activities of these populations are crucial for the pursuit of low-carbon development. These activities will be integrated with technology-based and behavioral-based functions. Considering the various circumstances and the different natures of the Asian countries, comprehensive knowledge and technology transfers are essential in order to increase capacity at various levels. Understanding of climate change and its impact, as well as mitigation and abatement, are the key to initiating activity for unlocked carbon intensity development. Responsibility arising from understanding will lead to
Fig. 10.6 Key indicators of carbon emissions in Asia and the Pacific (Source: ADB 2013)
Table 10.1 Changes of population and GDP between 2010 and 2030 for ASEAN + 4a
Source: Derived from ADB 2013, Low Carbon Green Growth in Asia
a+4 ¼ China, India, Japan and South Korea
sustainable development. Capacity development to direct society to know what to do, and how to do it, is the key to success in order to leapfrog for a massive reduction in GHG.