Commentary: SEA govts must shift subsidies to renewables & into distributed renewable-energy investments run by women

Author: Parimita Mohanty, Asia Times, Published on: 29 February 2020

"The case for women running shift to renewables", 28 February 2020

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...Southeast Asia is one of the only regions where coal use is steadily increasing....

This "coal addiction," as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it at the 35th ASEAN Summit, is worrying. [...] Rural women and girls, in particular, stand to lose the most from these choices. [...]

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It is past time to kick away the crutch with a subsidy swap.

Governments should be redirecting fossil-fuel subsidies into renewables and, at least in part, into distributed renewable-energy investments managed and used by women.

Large-scale renewable energy sources are an obvious choice for climate investments. But in investing in distributed renewable energy there is an opportunity to bring reliable energy to the last-mile user in a way that large-scale sources cannot. [...]

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...[I]t is actually women who can best capitalize on the benefits of renewables.

Frequently, women are the "household energy managers," .... Women are also crucial links in Southeast Asia's agriculture value chain, where renewable energy can provide significant benefits. It is often women who collect water for irrigation, perform daily farm labor, process agricultural products and rear livestock.

From irrigation to agro-processing machines, food storage, lighting, refrigeration and more, distributed renewables revolutionize how women use their time, labor, income and productivity. Distributed renewables can lessen the time and energy women spend on laborious tasks and give them some control over savings and new incomes. This could have a positive snowballing effect on health, safety, education and a community's ability to bounce back from unexpected climate shocks.

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A subsidy swap that empowers women would help to supercharge these existing investments and show Southeast Asia is serious about confronting climate change.

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