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Asia-Pacific, the Gigantic Domino of Climate Change

Asia-Pacific, the Gigantic Domino of Climate Change

Forget the poetic flap of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing causing rain in Central Park. Climate issues in Asia-Pacific are measured in superlatives. The world’s biggest population. Two of the three largest carbon dioxide-emitting countries and the largest share of emissions globally. The most exposed to extreme weather events. Some of the smallest and most vulnerable countries. Also, the fastest-growing part of the global economy and many of the leaders in green technology.

It’s not hard to see that what Asia does to fight global warming will be literally felt across the whole planet.

Pursuing a green recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 might sound daunting, but it’s actually a great opportunity to direct recovery spending into stimulating sustainable jobs and growth.

Green investment is generally more labor-intensive than the regular kind. The near-term extra spending and jobs would strengthen economies. In the longer-term, Asian economies would become more sustainable and resilient, and could build on their lead in many of the emerging green technologies.

More carbon taxes, more compensation

With the world’s most populous and fastest-growing economies, Asia-Pacific emits the largest volume of greenhouse gas, producing about half the world’s carbon dioxide. China, India (the first and third-largest emitters respectively, with the US second) and other large emitters will need to make greater efforts to reduce emissions if global warming is to be kept to the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5–2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

Taxes on the carbon dioxide released when burning fossil fuels can be a highly effective way of reducing emissions, but they are little used in the region. Even a gradually introduced and relatively modest carbon tax of $25 per ton would achieve the region’s aggregate Paris Agreement target.