Australian sustainable finance and carbon market experts have warned of a massive gap in investment needed to scale up financing.
"There is a $US3-5 trillion annual gap - out of a $US9 trillion annual need - in investment currently," Mara Chiorean, ANZ's director of sustainable finance, told an international forum.
Speaking at the Carbon Market Institute's inaugural investor forum in Singapore, she said the financial sector's skills will be essential as part of efforts to boost climate investment.
British diplomat Tom Moody said carbon markets will play a crucial role in the region being able to cut greenhouse gas emissions and protect forests and biodiversity.
But critics say heavily polluting industry and fossil fuel-dependent electricity systems must slash emissions at the source, rather than rely on offsets through carbon projects.
However, for land-deprived Singapore, carbon markets - and clean energy imports from Australia - offer a way to support global climate ambitions and sustainable growth.
The city-state played a crucial role in helping to finalise carbon market rules at United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in 2021.
South-East Asia's first carbon credits trading exchange, Climate Impact X, was launched in Singapore this year to provide a trusted marketplace.
According to a recent green economy report, the region is one of the world's largest energy consumers, with 80 per cent coming from fossil fuels. It also accounts for 70 per cent of global emissions from land use and forestry.
The report by Bain and Company, Temasek, GenZero, and Amazon Web Services also found eight of the 10 countries making up South-East Asia have a capacity to meet their energy demand entirely from renewables (except for Singapore and Brunei).
Collectively, the 10 countries can more than meet their power needs from renewable energy, CMI head John Connor said.
The region also has significant potential so-called carbon sinks, with 15 per cent of the world's forest land located in South-East Asia.
Boosting billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes' plans to export sunshine from the Northern Territory through the Sun Cable venture, Australia and Singapore last year signed a first-of-its-kind Green Economy Agreement.
The pact included provisions for developing standards and architecture for renewable energy trading between the two nations, including through an undersea cable or shiploads of green hydrogen and ammonia.
Damian Chan, executive vice-president of environmental sustainability with the Singapore Economic Development Board, told the forum that, once achieved, it could be replicated elsewhere in the region.
ANZ last year bought a stake in Australian climate change investment and advisory firm Pollination to tap into global capital flowing into decarbonisation.
Former Australian climate diplomat, Patrick Suckling, a senior partner with Pollination, told the forum there is widespread recognition of how market mechanisms can protect and restore nature.
He said there is an "extraordinary focus" on developing nature-based solutions that are capable of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises.
Australian Associated Press
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