Authors: Tri Bagus Prabowo and Luky A Yusgiantoro*
The Paris Agreement was organized at COP21, or the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a year after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014. The COP21 warned all countries in each region globally to take serious action regarding climate-related risks and global warming by the year 2100. As a preventive reaction, the ASEAN Member States, or AMS, yielded a specific joint statement to the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 with the target to reveal energy transition and transportation as the keystones of regional climate action under the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC). Thus, the targets of various energy-based policies will be diverted or accelerated in the transition towards using low-carbon energy. Two alternatives discussed in the other framework for renewable energy are natural gas and power grids. These two projects are equally outlined in the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2016–2025. Under the current status quo, the ASEAN Power Grid (APG) and Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) have become important energy projects in Southeast Asia.
Furthermore, Indonesia’s leadership in ASEAN in 2023 is predicted to be crucial momentum, considering Indonesia’s seriousness in carrying out the energy transition to reach net-zero emissions in 2060. Indonesia includes points of relevance and importance of ASEAN in responding to global challenges and issues by utilizing ASEAN as the epicenter of growth and prosperity in its planning to lead optimally under the theme ASEAN Matters: The Epicentrum of Growth. One of the indicators chosen by Indonesia is clean energy. They link AMS through economic relationships by bolstering blue economy schemes and shifting toward renewable energy. Indonesia aligns the principles of ASEAN solidarity with accessibility, acceptability, and affordability for the ASEAN community.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) indicators and domestic measures have been strengthened and implemented since ASEAN countries signed the Paris Agreement in compact form as a form of climate responsibility in the region. Domestic policy accountability has undoubtedly been considered since ASEAN has an agreement on the ASEAN Power Grid (APG) and the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) and is involved in the projects. ASEAN Power Grid (APG), one of the six energy program areas in APAEC, is the first to further frame the electrification interconnection between AMS. The project has been a progressive energy trading sector since the idea was first conceived in 1997 as cross-border electricity interconnection. Senior Officials Meeting on Energy (SOME) as part of ASEAN’s way of driving System A (North System), System B (South System), and System C (Eastern System) as a realization of advancing the ASEAN Power Network Consultative Committee (APGCC) to be more progressive and multilateral on electrification. The advantage offered by the APG program is the commitment to integrate the electrification equity program in ASEAN, which is connected to various sustainable energy development projects. ASEAN achieved electrification in 2020, reaching 95.42 percent, with only one country achieving the 100 percent electrification program, namely Brunei. For this reason, considering that electrification is also a manifestation of sustainable energy, the APG is committed to maintaining AMS solidarity through electrification. Under Indonesia’s chairmanship, because what is being promoted is the “epicenter of growth,” Indonesia will be able to become a center of growth and further strengthen APG’s position regionally with various multi-dimensional projects and programs.
Then what about TAPG, or the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline? Analyzing transitional energy and its derivatives, ASEAN countries must pay attention to affordability and ease of access to energy. If it is paradigmatic to say that ASEAN can switch immediately from fossil fuels, this still requires re-examination. Natural gas is one of the soundest energy sources for securing energy and managing the energy transition itself. Its use in the context of mixed energy is one of the advantages of natural gas. Southeast Asia is potentially rich in gas reserves, which have positioned it as a net exporter of natural gas for many years. When countries can cooperate in mixed energy development and achieve the flexibility of gas movement in the region will facilitate efficiency and encourage gas trade. In 2020, Malaysia had a total natural gas reserve of 32.1 trillion cubic feet, Indonesia had 2,442,831 million metric standard cubic feet, and Brunei had 30.7 million cubic meters per day in Q3 2020. As the three countries with large and expansive gas reserves, how can ASEAN, under Indonesia’s chairmanship, ensure energy security and meet regional mixed energy needs through the TAGP project? through TAGP as an energy infrastructure that supports the new potential of the natural gas market in Southeast Asia. Accelerated economic growth in Southeast Asia, citing the Asian Development Bank, triggers energy projects to become economic priorities in line with Indonesia’s vision regarding the relevance of ASEAN in accelerating economic growth. To conclude, that is the comparison of how ASEAN views the APG and TAGP projects as projects intended as a form of actual policy in achieving an energy transition by considering regional and domestic aspects following the principles of the ASEAN community.
*Luky Yusgiantoro is currently a member of the governing board of PYC, a think tank organization located in Indonesia that focuses on research on energy security. He has more than 20 years of academic and practical experience in the energy sector. He has published articles and studies in various media and venues. He received his PhD from the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado.