Asia-Pacific’s Solarized Digitization Agenda in Times of Pandemic


The virtual 7th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum was jointly organized by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network with the theme “Enabling Resilience for All: The Critical Decade to Scale-up Action.” The forum took place in March and was held to formulate national adaptation planning for science and technology, and energy and fiscal policies that take into account the interrelationships between climate change, health and biodiversity.

This nature and ecosystem-based policy will serve as the basis for the Asia-Pacific region’s contributions to the Leaders Summit on Climate in the United States; the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Kunming, China; and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 60% of the world’s population (about 4.3 billion people). It has the world’s fastest growing economies, which are supported by technology and cryptocurrency innovations that are energy intensive. This results in the highest growth in electricity generation, mainly powered by fossil fuels (85%).

Three of the six largest carbon dioxide emitting countries in the world – China, India and Japan – are located in the Asia-Pacific region, an area that produces about half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, the region is also increasingly affected by extreme weather events.

With 2020 witnessing the COVID-19 pandemic and its hottest year on record, there is an urgent need to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions to shift the Asia-Pacific region to carbon neutrality. Some countries in the Asia-Pacific region – including Japan, South Korea, Bhutan, Fiji, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Nepal – have stated that they want to be carbon neutral by 2050; and China has set a target of 2060. These commitments are reflected in their nationally determined contributions.

Related: The pandemic year ends with a symbolic carbon cap-and-trade solution

A recently published International Monetary Fund departmental paper makes fiscal policy recommendations for the region, focusing on three areas:

  • Increase in the use of CO2 taxes
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to climate change;
  • Increase pandemic spending on greener activities.

These recommendations aim to address climate change in the Asia-Pacific region.

Turning digital technology innovation into climate action in the Asia Pacific region

With the COVID-19 pandemic, industrial digitization has entered a new phase of explosive development.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union – which organizes events and publishes reports to raise awareness of the role of groundbreaking technologies in relation to the environment, climate change and the circular economy – explained:

“Today we are confronted with not one but two profound transformations. The former, powered by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, 5G and many others, is changing the way governments, businesses and individuals will act in this new century. The second transformation, climate change, disrupts ecosystems and endangers biodiversity, food and water security and the future of life on our planet. The question for us is whether humanity can turn this digital revolution into climate action and, more importantly, whether we can do it before it’s too late. “

As Zhao continues, “With more people coming online, more data generated and more devices connecting to the network, the ecological footprint of the digital ecosystem is growing.”

The Asia-Pacific region offers enormous potential, thanks to the increasing prominence of mobile payments and the development of central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, in countries such as Australia, China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and others. China’s Blockchain-based service network is developing a global network that will support future CBDCs from multiple countries.

Related: How the digital yuan stablecoin affects crypto in China: expert answers

The adoption of 5G technology is a catalyst for blockchain implementation to improve scalability and interoperability. And China’s Huawei and ZTE; Samsung and LG Electronics in South Korea; and Japan’s Sony and NEC are at the forefront of 5G technology.

Huawei was the world’s first company to offer 5G technology and ranks first as a global manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. However, the United States is restricting the company’s access to US technology that is essential for the production of modern 5G handsets and new 5G compliant mobile telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, the company has seen its market share decline outside of China.

This has also spilled over the adoption of blockchain technology, enabling telecommunications infrastructure to meet unprecedented service-level demands by bolstering operations, data sharing and customer identity verification, and detecting telecom fraud. According to Denian Shi, deputy chief engineer of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the development of the global blockchain industry has led to reduced investment / funding and cooled off in 2019 and 2020.

The role of digitization has become central to ongoing economic and social activity and in mitigating the impact of the pandemic. According to recent reports, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to contribute about 19.3% of total global spending on blockchain technology, fueled by increased investments by the fintech sector. The integration of biometrics into smartphones during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to grow blockchain-based digital identity solutions at 21% per year.

The ever-increasing demand for connectivity and bandwidth from billions of devices in the region has made it important for wireless networks, blockchain platforms and computing equipment to reduce the overall energy consumption of communications and the associated environmental footprint. With 5G being rolled out commercially worldwide, LG Electronics and Huawei have already begun to launch 6G networks, which will be “50 times faster than 5G” in spectrum efficiency, positioning and mobility. Studies show that 6G can be self-sufficient in energy for the massive so-called “Internet of Everything”, with blockchain technology at the heart of addressing key challenges.

The main solar energy application in the world is in the Asia-Pacific region

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the energy sector is the largest pollutant in the world and is responsible for 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With energy demand increasing continuously – pushing CO2 emissions to the highest levels in history – methods of generating large amounts of clean energy have become a survival issue for the Asia-Pacific region. As a result, the region has shifted its focus to decarbonising the grid and producing electricity from renewable energy. In March alone, 65 new contracts for renewable power plants were announced in the region, and nearly 80% of these plants are solar-powered.

China is leading the world as the largest producer of solar energy, seeking to transform its industrial structure, economy and society with breakthrough innovation in the next generation photovoltaic module for Earth and space applications. India ranks second, Japan third and Vietnam fourth in the region. Three of these four countries are also researching solar in space and radiating energy as a solution to the region’s transition to carbon neutrality, with Japan and China emerging as international leaders in this field.

Recently, the US Naval Research Laboratory conducted its Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module Flight Experiment, or PRAM-FX, to convert solar energy into radio frequency microwave energy aboard the US Space Force’s X-37B robotic spacecraft. According to Paul Jaffe, leader in innovation power beams and solar in space at NRL, PRAM-FX is a 12 inch (30.5 centimeter) square tile that collects solar energy and converts it into microwave power, but nowhere else. transmits. Instead, the experiment measures the performance of the conversion from sunlight to microwaves.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Selva Special, Esq., CPA, is an international tax attorney and chartered accountant who regularly writes on tax, legal and accounting issues for Tax Notes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.