The Legal 500 Green Guide: Asia Pacific 2024

Asia Pacific 2024


Market overview

Welcome to the Asia Pacific Green Guide 2024. 

With states, corporates, and stakeholders becoming more conscious of the importance of climate action, lawyers from an increasing number of jurisdictions and practice areas across the Asia Pacific region are recognising their growing roles and advising clients on emerging opportunities within the green transition. 

In major Asian economies, decarbonisation paths are being shaped by the pressures of economic and social development. China’s development-focused ‘dual carbon’ policy, which targets peak emissions before 2030 before becoming carbon neutral by 2060, is seeing a controversial expansion of coal power generation while significantly augmenting the country’s renewable energy capacity. While coal power remains prevalent in India, positive strides are being made to transition away in key sectors; alongside the expansion of clean electricity access among underserved communities, green hydrogen is increasingly being used as a feedstock in steel production. 

Green hydrogen has been a pivotal development in supporting diverse decarbonisation paths across the region. While South Korea, Singapore, and Japan are adopting hydrogen as a clean feedstock to transition their power plants, Malaysia is notably planning to transition its existing gas export infrastructure to become a main global export hub of green hydrogen by 2027. 

Indeed, countries across the region are utilising their existing strengths to carve out distinct decarbonisation paths. Owing to the robustness of local technology and automotive companies, South Korea is supporting the decarbonisation of passenger transport through the financing and development of battery gigafactory projects which serve the electric vehicle sector.  

There remains much positive work across the Asia Pacific region regarding the development of major renewable energy projects. Despite a turbulent global financing environment, renewables prevail as a widely sought-after growth sector, with Australia, Japan, and South Korea standing out as sites of major investments into offshore wind, solar, and battery storage projects. 

While ESG strategies are becoming indispensable across the region for corporates seeking finance, the Singaporean market stands out for an abundance of high-value green and sustainability-linked loans which finance infrastructure and property projects and trusts. Hong Kong, meanwhile, remains notable for the depth of its sustainable capital markets activity, exemplified by the government issuing its second retail green bond in September. 

Leveraging the region’s strong financial markets and abundant natural resources, carbon finance continues to be a critical growth sector: Chinese corporates are increasingly financing clean electricity projects and offsetting their carbon footprint through carbon offset and renewable energy certificate transactions; both Singapore and Hong Kong are harnessing their business communities to develop voluntary carbon credit marketplaces on their stock exchanges; and developing economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines are using global carbon finance to fund the vital protection of local ecosystems and biodiversity. 

New Zealand’s adoption of an Emissions Trading Scheme demonstrates how compliance carbon markets are growing globally as a state-level approach to reduce industrial emissions. Nonetheless, voluntary work in this sector remains essential while the agriculture sector – the country’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – remains exempt. 

Alongside major developments in the renewable energy and green hydrogen sectors, Australia is an important site for climate litigation, with significant challenges emerging against national and state-level governments regarding their exacerbation of the climate crisis, and against major banks and energy companies concerning false and misleading claims being made regarding sustainability.  

With an increasing number of clients committing ever more deeply to the green transition, law firms across the region are expanding their activities to prove they are truly ‘walking the walk’. Alongside the diversity of client work, firms are increasingly engaging key stakeholders in dialogue on how upcoming legislation can best support green development; formulating their own best practices and carbon neutral goals; and supporting lawyers across practice areas to become true green ambassadors to ensure clients receive focused, specialised advice. 

We hope that you enjoy reading about the important client work and transformative internal practices that feature within this edition of the Asia Pacific Green Guide, and we look forward to accompanying the region’s firms as they continue to make a pivotal impact in supporting the green transition. 

Anna Baubock
Anna Bauböck | Editor
Harry Hyde | Senior Researcher