19th annual meeting of ASEAN Forum on Coal to convene

The 19th annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Coal (AFOC) Council will begin today.

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The 19th annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Coal (AFOC) Council will begin today. Hosted virtually by the Philippines, the council will meet through April 23.

AFOC’s objectives include enhancing ASEAN coal sector cooperation and encouraging the transfer to clean coal technology (CCT). Room for growth exists—as of September 2020, 80% of coal-fired ASEAN power plants still used outdated coal technology.

Indonesia was the world’s second-largest coal exporter in 2019, while the Philippines was the 13th and one of the fastest-growing exporters. While demand for coal is decreasing globally, it is projected to rise in ASEAN states due to its cheap cost and relative abundance. There are opportunities abroad too—political friction between Australia and China has prompted Beijing to restrict Australian coal imports, creating an opening for ASEAN exporters.

Expect talks to cover how best to increase coal exports to China. Still, coal sector decarbonisation efforts continue worldwide, and industry modernisation is needed to meet ASEAN’s Paris Agreement responsibilities. Since developing an AFOC-wide regulatory framework to mandate CCT in new plants would prove cumbersome, officials may first push for establishing more stringent emission standards to promote CCT adoption among individual members.

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