Kuala Lumpur Participant's Report
Nithi Neseadurai, President - Environmental Protection Society Malayasia, gives his thoughts on the Kuala Lumpur Brainstorm event.
While I readily accepted the invitation from CNBC to attend the Brainstorming Session on ‘Sustainable Gas in Asia’, I was not sure of the format. I thought it might be panel based and I would be part of the audience.
During the pre-event reception at the Petroleum Club, I realised that nearly everyone present was a participant at the ongoing World Gas Conference in the city and a senior executive in the sector. I was the exception. After all, this captive audience was the very reason for holding the brainstorm.
Once we were all seated – eight people on eight tables – and given the scope of the task at hand, it all became clear. It was going to be a scenario planning session. And we had to get to “2035: After two decades of investment gas now accounts for more than 50 per cent of Asian energy consumption.” In this role play my table was given the hat of government.
As an environmentalist, this was a theme I could identify with as it meant replacing the use of coal and oil with gas. The attendant benefits would be climate change mitigation and improving air quality. It also meant redirecting billions of dollars spent in subsidies on coal and oil and blocking off nuclear energy. A 50 per cent consumption of gas in Asia, and a ramp up in the use of renewables to meet a core part of the balance was a scenario I liked.
During the opening brainstorm segment, we wrote down our strategies on the charts provided on the table. We then filled in the template provided to present our findings to the rest of the participants. As I did not specialise on gas energy issues, I took a back seat and listened to a fascinating discussion touching on grids – national, regional and international; distribution networks directly into homes; removal of subsidies; providing incentives; partnerships across governments; deregulation; stimulating unconventional gas sources; and creating an Asean-wide grid before linking up with China and India. My contribution to the discussion was stating the need for Asian governments to adopt a pro-gas and renewable energy policy in the interest of mitigating climate change and improving air quality. These elements were encapsulated into our strategic plan.
Given the profile of people on my table, it was obvious they had given the scenario much thought in their professional lives. We had come up with the plan in quick time and waited for our turn to present. Possessing devices meant for scoring, all participants were empowered to provide instant feedback on every table’s contributions. Even in this fun and friendly setting, the competitive element was evident with the silent cheering and cringing whenever another table scored lower or higher than one’s own table. CNBC Moderator Geoff Cutmore showed a good command of energy-related issues by cutting to the core of each table’s report and challenging their positions.
When the session was concluded, I was amazed how fast time had gone by. It was definitely an evening well spent. I had learnt a lot.
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