New Report Highlights Significant Private Sector Opportunities in Scaling Natural Climate Solutions in Southeast Asia

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The report spotlights the importance of NCS in climate change mitigation, challenges to NCS investments and country-specific opportunities for businesses

 

SINGAPORE – Media
OutReach
 – 8 December 2020 – Conservation International, DBS Bank, National
University of Singapore (NUS) and Temasek today jointly released a
report on The Business Case for Natural Climate Solutions: Insights and
Opportunities for Southeast Asia
. The report was
launched at a virtual session of Ecosperity
Conversations
, a series of sustainability-focused dialogues hosted by
Temasek.

 

As the first-of-its-kind study done in
Southeast Asia, the report highlights the opportunities for businesses to
invest in natural climate solutions (NCS) — climate
mitigation technologies that harness natural processes to reduce or remove
greenhouse gas — to stimulate the implementation of NCS at scale. It
also presents actionable takeaways for businesses to evaluate NCS opportunities
and engage with the public sector in the region.

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“To
implement natural climate solutions at scale, we need public-private sector
partnerships to deploy financial capital and preserve our natural capital. This
report brings together perspectives from players across several sectors to
define the investment case for natural climate solutions in Southeast Asia, a
region among the richest in both terrestrial and blue carbon sinks.” said Robin
Hu, Head, Sustainability & Stewardship Group at Temasek.

 

The
business case for NCS

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According to the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), global warming is projected to reach 1.5°C between 2030
and 2052. This will have a long-term negative impact on natural and human
systems, contributing to sea level rise and increased incidences of extreme and
deadly weather events[1].  

 

Studies
have shown that NCS play an important role in mitigating these devastating effects.
With the potential mitigation impact of 11 gigatons of CO2 annually,
NCS can provide over a third of the mitigation action needed to meet the Paris
Agreement Targets by 2030[2].
Yet, less than 3% of global climate finance is going towards NCS, signaling a
need for investments to plug the financing gap needed for NCS to scale and reach
the current climate targets set by governments to reach net-zero emissions by
2050.

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The
new report highlights the role that businesses can play in helping to bridge
this gap, along with the following business advantages:

 

  • The
    private sector has key, distinct advantages as an investor in NCS. Compared to
    the public sector, the private sector can often more rapidly deploy larger pools
    of investment that are less susceptible to political risks. It is also skilled in
    developing cost-effective models that are financially self-sustaining.
  • Due
    to the speed and scale at which they can deploy capital, businesses are
    uniquely positioned to catalyse investment in NCS and stimulate a thriving
    carbon market by purchasing offsets. To ensure this resulting carbon market is
    effective, they should also commit to high quality credits and fair prices,
    support design and development costs, and engage in policy development and
    advocacy.
  • NCS
    projects are comparable to engineered alternatives (such as carbon capture,
    utilisation and storage technologies) in terms of cost and return-on-investment,
    but are significantly favourable when non-carbon benefits such as other social,
    economic and environmental outcomes are considered. When implemented with the
    appropriate safeguards, NCS projects offer positive impacts far beyond carbon
    sequestration, such as biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services to
    local communities such as the provision of fresh water, food and disaster risk
    mitigation.
  • NCS
    project risk can be reduced through policy advocacy, technology deployment,
    inclusion of cost buffers, and upfront community engagement.

“Many of the world’s most
carbon-rich ecosystems — tropical forests, peatlands and mangroves — are found
right here in Asia. Nature provides the best and most cost-effective technology
for removing carbon from the atmosphere but is vastly underfunded despite new
corporate climate commitments that are being made every day. This report
provides a clear roadmap for direct investment in natural climate solutions,”
said Dr Richard Jeo, Senior Vice President, Conservation International
Asia-Pacific Field Division.

 

Opportunities
for NCS in Southeast Asia

The benefits of NCS for the Southeast
Asian region are striking. With its vast rainforests and dense
stock of mangroves and seagrass, countries in the region possess highly
favourable conditions for NCS investment and implementation in both terrestrial
and blue carbon, including an immense potential for investable carbon. For
example, a new study by the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions this
year has shown that protection of tropical forests in Southeast Asia could
potentially generate a return-on-investment of up to US$27.5 billion a year.

 

Significant progress has been made to
implement and incentivise NCS in Southeast Asian countries. Several countries
are developing relevant regulations, presenting major opportunities for
encouraging the inclusion of NCS. An individual country-level analysis that
evaluates the most critical policies for NCS investments, including
opportunities for policy engagement to scale NCS, is included on pages 61-64 of
the report.

 

In addition to forest protection,
reforestation as a climate solution could provide a significant portion of
climate mitigation potential across Southeast Asia. Even after factors such as
biophysical, financial, and land-use constraints are considered, reforestation
in Southeast Asia can potentially contribute to removal of between 0.4 and 0.5 gigatons
of carbon emissions per year[3]. Across different
ecosystems, Southeast Asia holds the highest density of carbon prospecting for
NCS investments, including both terrestrial and blue carbon.

 

“The potential climate mitigation and
financial payoffs of NCS are comparable with engineered mitigation solutions. If other
co-benefits that NCS provide are considered, such as clean air and water, coastal
resilience, biodiversity conservation, food security safeguard, and flood
prevention, they present even greater benefits,” said Professor Koh Lian Pin,
Director of the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions.

 

Putting NCS into play

To
help businesses implement NCS, the report highlights five areas of action:

 

  • Investment
    in NCS and offsets should be part of a broader portfolio of climate action that
    also includes decarbonisation, with the aim of reaching net zero by 2050 in
    line with the Paris Agreement.
  • The
    private sector has a unique and critical role in scaling NCS: purchasing and committing
    to high-quality carbon credits; supporting business model development and technical
    innovation for project design, implementation, and verification; and supporting
    national and jurisdictional government priorities. This includes aligning with
    emerging national frameworks for NCS and providing clarity on ownership of
    credits to avoid double counting.
  • Companies
    should apply a transparent price per metric ton that supports sustainable,
    ‘high-quality’ projects.
  • Investing in deeper, science-based spatial analyses to quantify
    the full scope of both NCS and co-benefits captured would ensure a better and
    more targeted ROI, help measure impact, and potentially fetch higher prices.
  • Blue carbon is a major opportunity in Southeast Asia but is still
    poorly represented in carbon markets. As they have limited scalable potential
    and geographic restrictions, businesses should identify and target areas where
    the co-benefits can be maximised.
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Mikkel Larsen, Chief Sustainability Officer,
DBS Bank, said, “Natural climate solutions present a compelling means to
address climate change’s threatening trajectory, particularly in Southeast
Asia, and a collective effort across public and private players is key to
bringing this to fruition. With the science, investors and other building
blocks of this ecosystem falling into place, we are now reaching an inflection
point where — with the inclusion of the private sector’s investment,
innovation, and expertise — we can greatly catalyse growth and drive change.
More than ever before, the private sector needs to consider the interests of
the communities they serve, rather than focusing primarily on shareholders. Not
only is this the right thing to do, it also leaves the businesses
well-positioned to mitigate potential risks and capture opportunities in this
new frontier. At DBS, we’re committed to supporting the development of industry
collaborations and frameworks that will help pave the way for a more resilient
and sustainable future.”

The full report is available at https://bit.ly/3lTaBuz



[1] IPCC. (2018). IPCC,
2018: Summary for Policymakers (Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report
on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C above Pre-Industrial Levels and
Related Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathways, in the Context of
Strengthening the Global Response to the Threat of Climate Change, Sustainable
Development, and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty)

[2]Griscom, B. W., Busch, J., Cook-Patton, S. C., Ellis, P.
W., Funk, J., Leavitt, S. M., Lomax, G., Turner, W. R., Chapman, M., Engelmann,
J., Gurwick, N. P., Landis, E., Lawrence, D., Malhi, Y., Schindler Murray, L.,
Navarrete, D., Roe, S., Scull, S., Smith, P., … Worthington, T. (2020).
National mitigation potential from natural climate solutions in the tropics.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,
375(1794), 20190126. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0126

[3]Y. Zeng, T.V.
Sarira, L.R. Carrasco, K.Y. Chong, D.A. Friess, J.S.H. Lee, P. Taillardat, T.A.
Worthington, Y. Zhang, L.P. Koh. 2020. Economic and social constraints on
reforestation for climate mitigation in Southeast Asia. Nature Climate Change
10:842–844.


About Conservation International

Conservation International works
to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through
science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving
innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis,
supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic
development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. Conservation
International works in 30 countries around the world, empowering
societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable
planet. Follow Conservation International’s work on Conservation News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

 

About National University of Singapore
(NUS)


The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship
university, which offers a global approach to education, research and
entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. We have 17
faculties across three campuses in Singapore, with more than 40,000 students
from 100 countries enriching our vibrant and diverse campus community. We have
also established our NUS Overseas Colleges programme in more than 15 cities
around the world.

 

Our multidisciplinary and real-world approach to education, research and
entrepreneurship enables us to work closely with industry, governments and
academia to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world.
Researchers in our faculties, 31 university-level research institutes, research
centres of excellence and corporate labs focus on themes that include energy;
environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases;
active ageing; advanced materials; risk management and resilience of financial
systems; Asian studies; and Smart Nation capabilities such as artificial
intelligence, data science, operations research and cybersecurity. For more
information, please visit www.nus.edu.sg.

 

About DBS Bank


DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18
markets. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS is in the three key Asian
axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The bank’s
“AA-” and “Aa1” credit ratings are among the highest in the
world. Recognised for its global leadership, DBS has been named “World’s Best
Bank” by Euromoney, “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker and “Best Bank in
the World” by Global Finance.

 

DBS provides a full range of services in consumer, SME and corporate
banking. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of
doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. DBS is committed to
building lasting relationships with customers, and positively impacting communities
through supporting social enterprises, as it banks the Asian way. It has also
established a SGD 50 million foundation to strengthen its corporate social
responsibility efforts in Singapore and across Asia. For more information,
please visit www.dbs.com

 

About Temasek


Temasek is an investment company with a net portfolio value of S$306
billion as at 31 March 2020. Our three roles as an Investor, Institution and
Steward, as defined in our Temasek Charter, shape our ethos to do well, do
right and do good. At Temasek, sustainability is at the core of everything we
do. We actively seek sustainable solutions to address present and future
challenges, as we capture investment and other opportunities that help to bring
about a better, smarter and more sustainable world. For more information,
please visit www.temasek.com.sg.

New Report Highlights Significant Private Sector Opportunities in Scaling Natural Climate Solutions in Southeast Asia

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