Opportunity to capitalise on green technologies

Hoyyen Chan

Tuesday, 17 Mar 2020

When Malaysia ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, it joined world efforts in keeping the global temperature rise well below 2°C and to limit the warming even further to 1.5 degrees celcius. This also implies the country is committed to reducing national emissions and adapting climate change impacts.

Such climate actions are known as Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Malaysia set its first NDC target “to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of GDP by 35 per cent (unconditionally – with domestic resources) or 45 per cent (conditionally – with supports from developed countries) by 2030 relative to the emissions intensity of GDP in 2005”.

While the NDC target is not legally binding, by signing this climate accord, Malaysia indeed is legally committed to prepare, communicate and maintain the NDC and to pursue domestic measures to achieve them. The National Focal Point to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as a coordinating body between the party and the UNFCCC will be the corresponding body for such communication.

According the CLIMATEWATCH, about 73 per cent of the global anthropogenic GHG emissions are from the energy sector. This also shows that the bond between energy and GHG emissions is undeniable. The more GHG emissions at the atmosphere, the more heat will be trapped and hence the warmer the earth will be. Therefore, integration between energy and climate policies in addressing climate change is so important.

The first NDC formulation period and ratification of Paris Agreement during the administration of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the focal point was the Environmental Management and Climate Change Division of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). The energy sector was then under the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA).

After the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018, under Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, institutional reforms and climate change was under a specific ministry — the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC).

MESTECC has been the focal point since then. Not only was this the first time for Malaysia but also not common in other countries that have energy and climate change divisions under the same ministry.

At present, under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, there is no “climate change” ministry, but we have Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and Ministry of Environment. Very likely climate change will be under the Ministry of Environment, and so it will be the focal Point to UNFCCC. Thus, energy and climate change divisions are once again separated.

The climate change division then will be responsible for preparing the NDC communication to the UNFCCC. It is hoped that having energy and climate change under different ministries, it would build bridges between these two policy communities.

Therefore, not only will it simplify the bureaucracy process and ease communications, it will also enhance the accountability of the energy sector in implementing mitigating actions and achieving the NDC. The energy policy, hence, would be formulated on the basis of emission reduction. It also means to achieve NDC, there needs to be strong leadership and an effective coordination framework.

With climate change a global concern, a strong will from the government in reducing GHG emissions should be seen as an opportunity to better profile Malaysia’s energy sector internationally and subsequently create more investment opportunities in green technologies.

Hoyyen Chan is Senior Research Analyst to the ASEAN Climate Change and Energy Project (ACCEPT), ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) and UNFCCC roster of experts. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of institutions or organisations that the author may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated.

This Op-Ed originally appeared in the New Straits Times, 14 March 2020.

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