Climate Tracker

Published: September 19, 2023

Topic: Events | Featured

Climate and energy campaigners, experts, and policymakers from Southeast Asia gather in Jakarta, Indonesia to discuss the challenges and opportunities for a just energy transition in the region.

Southeast Asian climate and energy campaigners, policymakers, and experts have emphasized that the transition to renewable energy in the region must incorporate robust transparency mechanisms while prioritizing inclusivity and equity.

Civil society organizations from Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos gathered in Jakarta on August 29 to 31 to discuss narratives surrounding a just energy transition (JET) in their respective countries.

They also explored collaborations on the implementation and promotion of JET at the regional level.

The participants of the regional convening highlighted the need to establish structured platforms for meaningful multistakeholder engagement, and robust mechanisms for transparency, accountability and governance that encompass both public and private sectors.
They also called for the development and adoption of sustainable technologies, integration of gender-responsive and socially inclusive policies into every facet of energy transformation, and implementation of robust capacity-building programs to navigate the complexities of the shift.

Southeast Asia, being one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, needs to transition to renewable energy sources to help mitigate the climate risks that threaten the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people.

A just energy transition is also essential for the region to address energy poverty, enhance energy security, support sustainable development, ensure social inclusion, and foster economic growth.

However, the path to a just energy transition remains fraught with challenges such as the availability of affordable financing.
“How do you finance these kinds of interventions where those people who are affected most but contributed less to climate change are at the center of discussions and have more resources?” said Mustafa Talfur, who heads the policy advocacy and campaigns for Oxfam Asia.
Heart of transition

The message of CSOs was clear: the transition to a fossil-free future must prioritize justice and equity.

Southeast Asian nations are home to indigenous groups and vulnerable communities threatened by electricity generation and extraction of minerals needed for clean energy shift. A just energy transition must prioritize the protection of these communities and their lands.
The transition may also lead to job displacement in sectors like coal mining and traditional energy generation. Ensuring a just shift entails addressing the social and economic impacts of affected communities.

“The goal of energy transition has to be aligned with poverty reduction goals. Of course you need growth but that growth should be inclusive and have a redistributive element, and is green so that it brings social impacts and benefits,” Talfur said.

Pree Bharadwaj, policy and administrative officer at Climate Action Network Southeast Asia, said the regional convening of CSOs compelled them to reevaluate their efforts to achieve a fossil-free future that ensures no one is left behind.

“There are so many opportunities for action, but how can we recalibrate our efforts to align with this overarching goal, maximize our impact in the spheres of influence, and minimize inefficiencies along the way?” she said.

For Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia national coordinator Aryanto Nugroho, the next crucial step following the regional convening is translating the principles of JET into practical milestones.

Among the attendees of the regional convening were OXFAM offices in Southeast Asia PWYP Indonesia and Philippines, CANSEA, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, and Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center Philippines.

Climate Tracker Asia team leaders Gaea Katreena Cabico from the Philippines, Kharishar Kahfi from Indonesia, and Do Trang from Vietnam also attended the regional convening to gain deeper understanding on the region’s energy transition.

They will produce stories of communities affected by energy transitions in their home countries and a collaborative piece on the challenges and opportunities of such a shift in Southeast Asia.

Climate Tracker Asia team leaders Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philippines), Kharishar Kahfi (Indonesia), and Do Trang (Vietnam) pose for a photo.