THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) encouraged governments to include more investment in renewable energy in their economic recovery plans after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Increased investment in clean energy infrastructure should be an important part of post-pandemic stimulus packages,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said at the opening of the bank’s annual Asia Clean Energy Forum Tuesday.

In the first five months of 2020, the ADB said it released around $900 million out of the $5 billion it set aside for clean energy development.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is projecting a 20% decline in global energy investment this year to $400 billion, describing it as a “historical drop” if the forecast is borne out.

“We have never seen such a big decline,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

So far during the pandemic, renewable energy has been among the most resilient energy sources, David Turk, acting deputy executive director of the IEA, noted.

“This is a very promising sign about renewables’ potential, its importance for resilience, its importance in the decentralized solution for many parts of the world,” he added.

Mr. Turk, who is also the agency’s head of Strategic Initiatives, said the energy industry should take advantage of the opportunities in various economic stimulus programs for renewables, as well as energy efficiency.

In the Philippines, both the energy efficiency and solar industries have urged Congress to include incentives for more green projects and digitize energy infrastructure after the pandemic subsides.

According to the ADB, the pandemic has not tempered the need to transition to renewable energy.

“The urgency to address climate change by accelerating the clean energy transition has not been diminished because of the pandemic; in fact, the task is more important than ever,” Mr. Asakawa said.

Meanwhile, for Asia to meet its sustainability goals, including its shift to renewable energy, the IEA said, it must spend $3 trillion each year over the next decade.

“Our numbers show that in order to (achieve a) sustainable future in Asia, we have to mobilize each year about $3 trillion… in the next 10 years,” Mr. Birol said. — Adam J. Ang