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How ASEAN Countries Enhancing Their Energy-Climate Commitments

Authors: Diah Retno Yuniarni, Rika Safrina
11 January 2023

The soaring use of fossil fuels and air pollution resulting from the energy sector will cause environmental problems related to increased CO2 emissions, which endanger public health. ASEAN countries have taken strategic steps to increase their energy and climate commitments over the coming years, including in their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). 

The UNFCCC reported only 34 nations out of 194 had submitted their new or updated version of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) before the COP27 ended. Among them are four ASEAN Member States (AMS). The newly enhanced NDCs reflect on their highest possible ambitions with a vision to achieve net-zero emissions, considering their development challenges. Several updates on ASEAN’s commitment to reducing emissions from the energy sector can be seen in Table 1.  

Table 1. Changes in 2022 NDC: emission reduction target of several ASEAN countries by 2030


According to Indonesia’s 3rd Biennial Update Report, the country contributed to a total emission of 1,845 MtCO2e in 2019, increasing by around 36% from 2010. The energy sector contributed to the increase in emissions as the second largest after Land Use Change and Forestry, amounting to 34.49%. There are four sources of emissions from the energy sector, including fuel combustion, fugitive emissions from fuel production, CO2 transportation, as well as injection and storage activities related to carbon capture storage.   

Indonesia is the first AMS to submit its Enhanced NDC (ENDC) after COP26 on 23 September 2022. The government increased its emissions reduction target from 29% to 31.89% by 2030 unconditionally, with 12.5% coming from the energy sector. With international support, the emissions can be reduced to 43.2%, compared to 41% in the previous NDC, with 15.5% from the energy sector, by the same year.  

Indonesia’s ENDC outlines the country’s transition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Several factors, such as transparency, carbon registry, cooperation mechanisms, and fund management, are the main content of the ENDC. In order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060 or sooner, Indonesia set four main agendas, namely: 1) employing a landscape approach, 2) highlighting existing best practices, 3) mainstreaming the climate agenda into developing planning, and 4) promoting climate resilience in food, water, and energy. 



As a developing country, Thailand is potentially impacted by climate change as being ranked 9th in the world in the “extreme risk” category. In 2016, Thailand contributed 0.76% of the global emissions. The energy sector has become the largest contributor to Thailand’s GHG emissions by contributing 69.06% of total emissions in 2018.  

In the previous NDC, Thailand attempted to achieve an unconditional target of around 20%, which, with international support, would reach a 25% cutback emissions by 2030. On 2 November 2022, Thailand submitted its updated NDC to raise its ambition of emissions reduction to 30%, which, if supported by the international community, will increase to 40%. 

To implement the goals, Thailand has integrated their prioritised agenda into National Strategy (2017-2037) through The NDC Sectoral Action, which will identify emission reduction measures, targets and responsibilities of energy sectors. Country ambitions in energy targets are put forward in the Power Development Plan (PDP), the Alternative Energy Development (AEDP), and the Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP). Furthermore, the government introduced a vehicle tax policy to reduce emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles to escalate transformation into low-carbon transportation. 

Meanwhile, Thailand faces several main obstacles in supporting cutback emissions in the energy sector, including limited network connections, lack of financial support for energy efficiency and renewable energy investment, lack of resources (technological and technical organisers), and the existence of a negative public stigma against renewable energy (power plants, waste, and biomass power). 



In 2020, Singapore’s GHG emissions reached 49.7 MtCO2eq, down 4.3% from 2019, perhaps due to the lockdown restriction to curb the Covid-19 virus spread. The country submitted the updated NDC on 4 November 2022, and enhanced its climate plans by reducing the carbon emission target to peak at 60 MtCO2eq by 2030, from 65 MtCO2eq in the previous NDC. Singapore will also peak its emissions earlier than planned and achieve net zero by 2050. 

Aware of the limited renewable energy resources in the country, the country requires collaboration either in the import of renewable energy or even in green hydrogen. The government has launched a hydrogen strategy to fuel half of its power needs by 2050.  

Among other AMS, Singapore is considered more advanced in the carbon pricing mechanism. The country now aims to raise carbon tax progressively.  

Demonstrating its ambition to fully support the global net-zero emission target, Singapore carried out the collaboration by launching the Singapore Pavilion for the first time at COP27. Singapore is optimistic that other countries can take advantage of Singapore’s position as a financial centre to bring together many parties to fund several programs, towards a global future of clean energy. 



At COP26, Vietnam stated that it “will develop and implement strong GHG emission reduction measures with its own resources along with the cooperation and support of the international community, especially developed countries, both in terms of finance and technology transfer, including implementing mechanisms under the Paris Agreement, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050”. The country walked the talk by submitting its updated NDC on 8 November 2022, during COP27. The commitment to reduce GHG emissions unconditionally increases from 9% to 15.8% by 2030 relative to a business-as-usual scenario from the reference year 2010. 

Previously absent, the methane emissions target has now been added to Vietnam’s updated NDC, in line with the Global Methane Pledge, endorsed at last year’s summit in Glasglow. The country aims to reduce its methane emissions by 30% in 2030 compared to 2020 levels. 

The 7th ASEAN Energy Outlook reports that the ASEAN region is projected to produce a total energy sector emission of 2,535 MtCO2eq by 2050, up from 1,991 MtCO2eq in 2020, after considering the member states’ national policies and targets, including NDCs. Therefore, other ASEAN countries are also urged to raise their climate ambitions. Through solid efforts and commitments from the government, private sector, and society, it is hoped that ASEAN member states will be able to achieve their goals of reducing emissions in the energy sector. The COP27 ended with a successful deal on the long overdue “loss and damage” fund but without significant progress on phasing out fossil fuels. It is time for concrete steps from all parties to tackle climate change.