Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg



Climate change, resource scarcity and renewable energy in Asia: curse or blessing? (Klimawandel, Resourcenknappheit und Erneuerbare Energie in Asien: Fluch oder Segen?)

Dozent: Frauke Urban

Global climate change, fossil fuel resource scarcity and energy security are some of the greatest challenges the world is facing today. One of the most important commodities of our times, energy, is closely intertwined with environmental challenges such as climate change, fossil fuel resource depletion and air pollution. Renewable energy is often praised for being the answer to these environmental problems. At the same time, renewable energy can contribute to reducing energy poverty and increasing access to modern energy in poor countries. Many countries in Asia are relying increasingly on renewable energy, for example India and Bangladesh are aiming to reduce energy poverty through small-scale, decentralised solar energy. At the same time, a series of large dams are being built in Asia, most importantly in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region in Southeast Asia. While small-scale renewables from solar, wind, hydro and biomass have very low social and environmental implications, large-scale renewables such as large dams have significant environmental and social implications. This includes the altering of hydrological systems, geomorphological changes, impacts on fish and aquatic fauna and flora. Often, it also means displacement and resettlement of affected individuals and communities, loss or declines of livelihood, changes to lifestyles and traditions, impacts on fishing and agricultural activities as well as food security, impacts on access to and quality of water and land. This seminar will first outline the link between energy and climate change. It will then discuss the opportunities that renewable energy technologies can play as a solution for climate change mitigation, resource scarcity and energy security. The seminar will then critically discuss the benefits and challenges of renewable energy and whether they are a curse or a blessing for Asian countries.