With a population size of 4.68 billion people (60% of the world’s total) and rapidly growing energy consumption needs, Asia will play a vital role in global efforts to reduce carbon emissions towards a net-zero economy by 2050.
A new research report, titled “Carbon Cost of GDP: how investment in Asia can deliver the energy transition”, conducted by impact investor ThomasLloyd, shows the continent produces more than half the world’s 37.12 billion tons of CO2 emissions with just eight of these countries accounting for 45% of total global CO2 emissions.
The study, which measures the amount of CO2 emitted for every trillion dollars of GDP generated, presents insightful comparisons between countries by ranking their emissions’ intensity with respect to their economic output. This comparison, rather than focusing merely on absolute emissions, makes clearer where impact investments must be allocated in the most efficient manner to tackle climate change. The study presents the findings that the global average Carbon Cost of GDP per country is 382 million tons (Mt) with Asian emerging economies, namely Emerging Asia and Bangladesh, ranking for the most part notably above the 500 Mt levels in sharp contrast with Europe’s ‘Big Four’ with 132 Mt.
In the last few decades, Western countries have been successful in both reducing the absolute level of their CO2 emissions, and the carbon intensity of their GDP, but in Asia, it is a different story. This is shown by the 2021 Carbon Cost of GDP comparison for countries like Vietnam, with 890 Mt of CO2 emissions per trillion dollars generated, or India, with 853 Mt of CO2 emissions per trillion dollars. These Asian countries stand out as the world’s most carbon-intensive producers followed closely by Malaysia, China, Thailand and Indonesia with at least four times more carbon emissions than Europe’s Big Four.
These findings suggest a need for major investment in climate infrastructure and renewable energy projects across Asia to accelerate the energy transition and tackle climate change where investment can be most impactful. Particularly in Asian emerging economies, as this analysis presents, demographic change and economic growth are rapidly driving upward the demand for energy which are relying on high carbon-emitting fuels to power their growing economies.
Additionally, ThomasLloyd’s report highlights the significance of changing global demographics, with Asia now accounting for almost 60% of the world’s population and the life expectancy of the average citizen rising to the age of 74 compared to just 41 in 1950.
Nick Parsons, Head of Research at ThomasLloyd commented: “As a developer and financier of sustainable real infrastructure assets, we are proud to play a part in the region’s economic transformation and in limiting the intensity of Asia’s carbon production and consumption, whilst serving the needs of the region’s rapidly growing population.
“Through this Carbon Cost of GDP report, we are able to identify where progress has been made, and where further interventions and investment are required, as part of ThomasLloyd’s commitment to helping deliver the energy transition across Asia.
With the ‘carbon cost’ of GDP in Asia almost four times higher than that of the four largest economies in Europe, investment in Asian renewable energy is a vital step to achieving a Net Zero world by 2050. “