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[MANILA] More South-East Asian countries are adopting the 2050 Pathways Calculator, a web-based tool to help determine how their energy and related economic strategies will impact on greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris later this year.

The open source tool is used to aid planning, test policies and feed into the intended nationally determined contributions of each country, according to Matt Nottingham, low carbon officer at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office who leads international outreach for country-specific calculators.

Originally developed by the United Kingdom’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, more than 20 countries have now developed or are developing their own calculator, says Nottingham.

He says some countries have gotten creative citing Taiwan as an example, which took the basic methodology of the calculator and adapted it into a video game where the user plays one of five kings trying to create an environmentally friendly landscape for his people.

In South-East Asia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have published their first versions while Brunei, Laos and Singapore are in the process of developing their own versions.

“It’s easy to use,” Ngoc Nguyen Song, a policy consultant for Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade who focuses on climate change, tells SciDev.Net. Song helped Vietnamese officials launch the country’s own calculator in January for use mainly by the national government.

Vietnam is now looking to create a version at the city level. Plans are in place to pilot a version in Da Nang, one of three cities in the country that has a climate change office. Song adds that Vietnam might also develop a calculator that would engage children and the public.

But not all South-East Asian countries have been quick to adopt the calculator. The Philippines, for example, has shown interest in the past but has yet to launch its own version.

That’s due to bad timing and prior commitments made by various government agencies that would have otherwise collaborated on the project, according to Jesus Tamang, director of the energy and policy planning bureau of the Philippines’ Department of Energy (DOE).

Now, Tamang says that the DOE is keen on developing its own calculator with the support of the UK. “I saw the China calculator and the UK calculator and I’m convinced that we can do that here in the Philippines,” he tells SciDev.Net.

But Tamang sees challenges ahead, including gathering data from various departments and offices, which are either difficult to obtain or are incomplete. He is particularly concerned about finding long-term data. Certain agencies like the National Economic and Development Authority only have the next four to five years of indicators, which limit the DOE to projecting just a short-term outlook.

“For our findings to be immediately accepted by other sectors and economic managers, they have to be convinced also on the long-term estimates or assumptions that we will be using,” Tamang says.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South-East Asia & Pacific desk.