When a vaccine to COVID-19 is discovered it is going to be vital that countries have the infrastructure in place to manage and distribute it.
For the Asia-Pacific region, where half the world’s population lives, issues linked to energy, such as the ability to transport and store vaccines at the correct temperature, pose a threat to health systems tackling the pandemic. In a bid to counter these challenges in the region a new collaborative effort is underway to accelerate access to clean power. Led by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it will focus on making low-cost sustainable energy solutions more widely available.
“We are living in truly unprecedented times, calling for decisive and cooperative action among the international community to save lives and support livelihoods all over the world,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The Asia-Pacific region faces unique energy challenges that undermine the ability of governments to respond to this crisis and build economic resilience. Renewables can underpin these efforts and therefore can play an instrumental role in both the response and the recovery.”
To support the future roll out of COVID-19 immunisation programmes, which will rely on energy from sources like decentralised solar, IRENA and ESCAP will work closely with national governments in the region to chart the best way forward.
Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, added: “To bring about a fundamental shift for the energy transition, we need to adopt the motto of ‘no more business as usual’ for all stakeholders. Policymakers should not lose sight of the looming climate crisis, but rather design economic stimulus packages with social inclusion and environmental sustainability built into every decision in particular sustainable energy development.”
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