Home to nearly one-third of the world’s population, impressive economic growth, and two nuclear-armed states, South Asia is a region that can ill afford more turmoil, which is why the looming energy crisis facing the region has such massive implications. Energy demand is growing at an astounding rate. However, energy supply has been unable to keep up because of limited domestic resources, institutional—government and regulatory—shortcomings, subsidized energy prices, and a lack of investment in desperately needed energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, nearly 600 million people in the region lack access to electricity and it remains one of the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of a changing climate. In his latest book, Energy and Security in South Asia: Cooperation or Conflict? (Brookings Press, 2011), Senior Fellow Charles Ebinger argues the region needs to address its energy shortcomings with bold decisions if it is to capitalize on the economic opportunities before it.
On November 2, the Energy Security Initiative hosted the launch of Energy and Security in South Asia: Cooperation or Conflict? Ebinger presented his findings and recommendations, arguing that many reforms—from pricing and institutional reforms to investment in infrastructure—can be made domestically, but that these will be insufficient in the long run if the governments of the region cannot cooperate on energy trade. Following his remarks, Brookings Senior Fellow Stephen Cohen and Ron Somers, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, joined the discussion. Vice President Martin Indyk, director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, provided introductory remarks.
After the discussion, panelists took audience questions.