The International Energy Agency (IEA) has expressed concern that demand for fossil fuels in Asia will rise, risking increased levels of local pollution and a rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels from the region.

In a special report, "World Energy Outlook Special Report on Southeast Asia", the IEA notes that rising energy demand, constrained domestic production and concerns over energy security will fuel an appetite for coal.

They will also lead to a sharp rise in oil imports and reverse Asia’s role as a major gas supplier to international markets, it said. "Countries in the region now have much in common with IEA members," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. "We must all work together to build more secure and sustainable energy supplies and markets, as platforms for promoting economic development."

In a central scenario detailed in the report, IEA shows that Southeast Asia’s energy demand increases by 80 per cent to 2040. Despite policies aimed at scaling up the deployment of renewable resources, the share of fossil fuels in the region’s energy mix increases to around 80 per cent by 2040, in stark contrast to the declining trend seen in many parts of the world.

The scenario also indicates a doubling of the region’s net oil imports by 2040, and a tripling of electricity demand. Although Indonesia can support rising gas and coal demand in the region, production is increasingly consumed within the region, which will become a net gas importer of 10 bcm by 2040.

The IEA believes that Southeast Asia will continue a shift towards coal because of the fuel’s affordability and availability. In the power sector, the efficiency of the coal-fired power plant fleet will increase, but less efficient sub-critical technologies will account for half of coal-fired capacity.

The IEA therefore believes that there is a need to accelerate the deployment of more efficient technologies in Southeast Asia.

The report notes that greater integration of the region’s energy markets could help catalyse development of energy resources, facilitate more efficient use of the region’s resources and enhance energy security. It also highlights the significant progress achieved by the region in expanding energy access but urges increased action as 120 million people remain without access to electricity while almost 280 million lack clean cooking facilities.

The report also calls for more efforts to reduce subsidies to fossil fuels, noting that the region spent $36 billion on fossil-fuel subsidies in 2014 despite reforms in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.