With Asia’s share of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions soaring, the region must do more to attract investment in clean energy, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

While the worldwide clean energy sector is worth around $148 billion per year, little investment flows into Asia, which is itself particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including flooding and water shortages.

Most clean energy investment flows into Europe and other developed regions, attracted by supportive government policies and legislation. Policymakers have a critical role to play in creating the right framework, says the ADB, while existing schemes designed to help Asia need to be improved.

Asia’s share of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions has tripled since 1973 and is expected to reach 42 per cent by 2030, due to rising energy demand and the importance of coal fired power plants in the generating mix.

Around $6.4 trillion of investment will be needed in Asia’s energy infrastructure by 2030 to meet demand, says ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda.

“To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, much of this investment would need to flow into clean energy options,” said Kuroda.

In addition to a strengthened Clean Development Mechanism, Asia needs to implement new policies that put a price on carbon by 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. New investments are also needed to help developing countries adapt to the damaging impacts climate change is expected to have in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the ADB some 1.2 billion people in Asia could experience freshwater shortages by 2020 due to climate change, while crop yields in central and south Asia could fall by half by 2050.

Asia’s major coastal cities, including Bangkok, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Mumbai, and Shanghai are vulnerable to flooding, while residents of Tuvalu, the Maldives and coastal Bangladesh are at risk of becoming ‘climate refugees’.