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Window for Southeast Asian Climate Action Narrowing: Report

Window for Southeast Asian Climate Action Narrowing: Report

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a rare opportunity for the region to embark on a transition to greener forms of energy.

Despite being uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Southeast Asian nations are missing an opportunity to use the COVID-19 pandemic to promote a transition to greener economies, according to a new report.

The report by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), released yesterday, argues that despite the region being among the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, its governments have failed to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by COVID-19 to promote a greener economy. Indeed, many have enacted measures that make such a transition more difficult.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic recession have revealed the failure and fragility of our current economic system,” the report stated, “which has prioritized business interests over the well-being of people and the environment, deepened inequalities and failed to protect the most vulnerable.”

Southeast Asian nations recognize the extent of the risk. In its ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, formulated at the end of 2020, the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc explicitly stated that climate change poses a “fundamental risk” to the region and that “actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change should be taken immediately.”

The report, which evaluates the recovery measures taken in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste between February 2020 and April 2021, shows that the green policy measures adopted as part of their national COVID-19 recovery plans have fallen far short of the opportunity afforded by the pandemic.

Between April 2020 and April of this year, the 11 nations of Southeast Asia have spent an estimated $1.15 trillion on COVID-19 recovery packages – a rare mobilization of financial resources.
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