Greenhouse Gas Emissions Status in Asia-Pacific Region and Its Mitigation

Asia-Pacific countries have important role for reducing Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It was reported that Asia-Pacific region not only vulnerable to climate change 1), but also the region is a major contributor to climate change2). It already accounts for over half of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the high-growth path on which many of the region’s economies find themselves means that this contribution will grow unless there are significant policy interventions3). Another importance of this region is because of about 60% of the world’s population resides in Asia-Pacific that dwelling in urban area ranging from remote to rural area. Therefore, if the Asia-Pacific countries can reduce the GHG, threaten of climate change will ease not only for this region but also for the whole countries in the world.

Two characteristics of major emissions should be considered for this region. Firstly, emissions from fossil fuel combustion (industry and transportation) and secondly from forestry sector (deforestation and forest fire emission). China and Indonesia are listed among the biggest emitter of GHG for each of these major sources in the region. China’s GHG emission mostly come from energy sector (fossil fuel combustion) and for Indonesia’s mostly come from forestry sector. Furthermore, rapid economic development in this region contribute significantly to the GHG emissions globally. Generally, fossil fuel emissions (including cement production) accounted for about 91% of total CO2 emissions from human sources in 2014. This portion of emissions originates from coal (42%), oil (33%), gas (19%), cement (6%) and gas flaring (1%).

Extreme weather, sea level rise etc. are warning indicators caused by climate change. This phenomena can influence the balance of ecosystems and affect human, plants and animals. As consequences, it will affect poverty, food, energy security, and health of the societies in this region. Generally, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced a warming trend in recent decades consistent with global temperature trends4). Meanwhile, rainfall is more difficult to conclude, because some sub-regions experiencing declining and others have experiencing increasing.

Climate modelling indicates temperature increases in the Asia/Pacific region on the order of 0.5–2°C by 2030 and 1–7°C by 20705). Temperatures are likely to warm more quickly in the arid areas of northern Pakistan and India and western China4). Further modelling suggest that the region will be affected by a rise in global sea level of approximately 3–16 cm by 2030 and 7–50 cm by 2070 in conjunction with regional sea level variability5). Natural disasters reported more frequently during 1950 to 2004 in Pacific islands. Number of windstorm was 157 time that affected population around 2,496,808. Furthermore, drought affected almost 629,580 population.

Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission. Therefore, mitigation of climate change refers to use science and technology for reducing GHG emission. The using of renewable energies, increasing energy efficiency, forest management and policies are efforts to reduce GHG emissions. Energy from hydro/water, geothermal, micro hydro, biomass, solar, wind is renewable energy that “will be” ready to replace fossil fuel in the near future. Asia-Pacific countries have committed to moving towards a more diverse and low carbon energy mix through the 2030 agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. However, fossil fuels stubbornly remain a major part of the regional energy mix, making up three-quarters of electricity generation. However, several efforts have been made throughout the countries.

In Asia-Pacific region, by August, 2014, China’s total installed hydropower capacity reached 280 GW. Moreover, China’s estimated installed capacity of biomass was 4 GW in 2010 and is expected to reach 30 GW by 2030.

For South Korea, in 2011, 7.8TWh of hydropower was produced, making hydropower the country’s top renewables source. It has been estimated that Korea has small-scale hydropower potential of 1.5GW. Installed capacity represents less than 5% of domestic potential, indicating significant untapped resources. For biomass energy, by 2010, 4,000 residential boilers capable of using biomass pellets had been installed7).

Meanwhile, Indonesia installed 4200MW of hydro, the potency stands for 75,67 GW and energy from biomass reached 445 MW and the potency is very huge, 49,81 GW8). Renewable energy currently plays a minor role in Indonesia’s energy supply. However, the Government is seeking an increase in renewable generation to 17% of total energy consumption by 2025. Geothermal energy is Indonesia’s most feasible renewable energy source given that it accounts for roughly 40% of known geothermal capacity worldwide. Indonesia is currently the third largest geothermal generator.

While some countries suffer from energy shortages which limit their economic and social development, others enjoy energy surpluses, such as hydropower and natural gas. Trading these resources through new cross-border power grids, drawing on renewable energy when possible, as well as gas pipeline infrastructures, can open up enormous opportunities for both economic growth and decarbonisation.


Fig. 1 Renewable energy forecast in select countries in Asia-Pacific9)

Besides energy sector, emission of GHG is also come from forestry area. Indonesia is one of the country in Asia-Pacific that contribute significantly to the emissions from this sector. The country is host to large forested areas, it is estimated that forest area about 133 million ha, but almost 50% threatened by human activities. In Indonesia, about 24 billion tons of carbon stock (BtC) are stored in vegetation and soil, and 80% of this (about 19 BtC) is stored in the standing forest (State Ministry of Environment, 2003). Land use change and deforestation, estimated at 2 million hectares (ha) per year (World Bank 2000) results in the release of a large amount of Indonesia’s carbon reservoir8). Indonesian government as well as developing countries has ratified and declared many regulations related to forest protection, yet the application is not effective.

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Climate change is also believed effect on regional security directly and indirectly. The factors such as lack of success in food and water security, more frequent of natural disasters, and extensive degradation of ecosystem can threaten security of the nations. It was reported that agricultural damages to Viti Levu, Fiji of approximately 14 million US$/year (70 million US$ during an extreme event)10) and reduction in rice yields of 20 – 40% in the Philippines11) as result of modelling of increasing the temperature less than 2°C.

Effective implementation of greenhouse gases reducing projects is key to diminish future vulnerability of Asia-Pacific countries to climate change. Moreover, investments must be made to increase the capacity of Asia-Pacific countries to adapt to climate variability and climate change. This may be achieved by regional collaborations inter-governmental, universities, research center and local communities.

1) United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, "Economic impacts of climate change in Asia Pacific to be highlighted at global UN forum," Press Release, 11 November 2016
4) IPCC (2001) Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. [McCarthy, J., Canziani, O., Leary, N., Dokken, D and White, K. (eds.)]. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, World Meteorological Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme. Cambridge University Press, 1032 pp.
5) Preston, Benjamin L. Climate Change in the Asia/Pacific Region A Consultancy Report Prepared for the Climate Change and Development Roundtable.
6) World Bank (2006). Not If But When. Adapting to Climate Hazards in the Pacific Islands Region. East Asia and Pacific Region, The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.
8) World Bank. Executive Summary: Indonesia and Climate Change
11) Peng, S., Huang, J., Sheehy, J.E., Laza, R.C., Visperas, R.M., Zhong, X., Centeno, G.S., Khush, G.S., and Cassman, K.G. (2006). Rice yields decline with higher night temperature from global warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101, 9971-9975.
Roni Maryana
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