Climate Change | Report

Energy Transition and Coal Phaseout: Subnational Cooperation and Progress in Asia-Pacific

April 2020


More than 50 government energy and environment supervisors, green finance experts, and civil society members from the Asia-Pacific region convened in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, September 4-5, 2019, for the “Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Energy Transition & Coal Phase-out.” The event was co-organized by Solutions for Our Climate and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

Against a backdrop of calls for coal phaseout and stronger climate action from the United Nations, over the course of two days and seven sessions, participants discussed the drivers of energy transition, coal-to-clean transition policies of national and subnational governments in East Asia and around the world, investments for clean energy, and platforms for future collaboration between governments.

Key Takeaways

  • The push by subnational governments for coal phaseout is rooted mostly in addressing air pollution and local opposition to coal power projects.
  • There are often wide gaps between national and subnational ambition to shift to clean energy, which can restrain efforts by substate actors.
  • Despite such challenges, subnational governments are creatively using their authority to usher in energy transition.
  • Grid infrastructure and storage remain significant technical obstacles for energy transition.
  • Subnational governments are interested in international financing for renewables projects and capacity building, but investors also need some support processes in place from subnational governments to make these investments.
  • To accelerate coal phaseout, governments and civil society need to examine ways to facilitate a just transition.
  • There are opportunities to increase regional consensus and accelerate energy transition through cross-border collaboration.