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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

03 December 2020




Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address the 7th International Energy Forum – International Gas Union Ministerial Gas Forum 2020.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is fully supportive of the mission of the Ministerial Gas Forum 2020.

We recognize the important role that natural gas can play in the global energy transition.  This Forum provides a unique opportunity to bring decision makers and industry leaders for discussing the contribution of the natural gas in the economic recovery measures across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.  

Although the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented fall in regional gas demand, there is no doubt that natural gas remains the fastest growing fuel, accounting today for 23% of global primary energy demand and nearly a quarter of electricity generation.

The Asia-Pacific region is considered as a main source of growth in demand for natural gas. A combination of factors — from booming population, increasing levels of industrialization and power demand, to continued switching from coal to gas — will drive that growth.

Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 set targets for member States towards sustainable and cleaner energy future. 

To have the Paris Agreement fully implemented, the global net anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions should decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.  This ambitious targets require radical transformation of energy systems to a low carbon model.

Natural gas produces 25–30% and 45–50% less CO2 delivered than oil and coal respectively. As the energy transition gains momentum, natural gas has played a role in addressing local air quality problems and reducing CO2 emissions in many countries around the globe. Coal-to-gas switching can deliver the fast and substantial emission reductions.

Furthermore, switching to gas in the power generation can support achieving high penetrations of variable renewable energy like wind or solar. This is largely possible because gas acts as a flexible and rapidly dispatchable energy resource that can be switched on and off quite quickly, making natural gas-fired generation the fuel of choice to accommodate sudden changes in demand and supply of electricity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me share with you some concrete policy actions to move forward with this agenda.

First, in the residential sector, natural gas may become a solution for both heating and clean cooking. The use of gas reduces household air pollution emissions to safe levels compared to traditional types of cooking fuels such as firewood. This shift would have particular importance for women in developing countries who are traditionally responsible for food preparation at home.

Second, in the transport sector, vehicles are responsible for more than 20% of global emissions. With the use of Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs), particularly for heavy-duty transportation, 20% to 25% less CO2 emissions are emitted compared to petroleum fueled vehicles.

Moving toward energy transition, the gas industry will have to tackle the leakage and flaring problems if gas is to be viable and low-cost abatement option in the medium term.

In the longer term, the gas sector will also need a credible decarbonization strategy that addresses the inherent opportunities, challenges and limitations of the current technological pathways.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

At the regional level, ESCAP is facilitating the energy transition to low carbon societies. Though our 53 members and 9 associate members are all at different stages of economic development and level of progress in building low carbon economies, there is an urgent need to ensure energy transition now.

ESCAP is undertaking analytical and intergovernmental work across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to support our member States.

We are conducting an analytical study aimed to support regional cooperation in development and utilization of natural gas for sustainable and cleaner energy systems in the Asia-Pacific region. We recognize its role in achieving SDG 7, in particular providing access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, supporting renewables integration, enhancing energy efficiency, and reducing emissions. 

Several countries in our region such as China, India, Indonesia, and Singapore have demonstrated an integrated approach in natural gas deployment in transport, power generation and other sectors.

Regional dialogue and cooperation on natural gas will help to translate these successes to other developing countries in the region and to address the key challenges facing energy transition.

Achieving the SDGs relating to sustainable energy and climate change requires the development of low carbon economies that utilize cleaner energy, bring modern energy to all, use energy efficiently and tap into the opportunities of greater regional energy connectivity.

I am confident that all of these strands, if effectively implemented, will enable member States to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

I wish you a very successful Forum.

Thank you.

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