ENERGY, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Yang Berhormat Yeo Bee Yin, addressed the high-level segment of the UN climate change conference in Poland on Wednesday. The Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) present at the conference welcomes the minister’s statement as she called for more trust from developed nations and more international cooperation in the fight against the climate crisis.
MYD is an NGO comprising young Malaysians who represent the local youth climate movement at international conferences, such as the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Poland. The annual Conference of Parties is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
MYD supports the minister’s stand against diluting the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and equity in the ongoing negotiations. CBDR, a key tenet of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, came under attack from several parties during COP24. It defines that while climate change is a global problem that needs to be tackled collectively, developed nations should take the lead in climate action based on their historical emissions. It is imperative that Malaysia and other developing nations insist on upholding this principle.
We fully support the minister’s call for developed nations to fulfil their moral obligations to provide financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building to the developing world. This was reiterated in YB Yeo’s exclusive interview in the article “Finding green finance” published in Star2 on Thursday. Climate finance is crucial for Malaysia to continue to thrive and prosper while actively executing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
It is disheartening, though, that the minister did not highlight the importance of finalising the Paris Agreement Work Programme which is meant to set us on a pathway to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100. There was also no reference to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report, which has indicated that the world is on its way to 1.5°C of warming as early as 2030 should the climate pledges from parties remain as they are.
While we commend the minister for calling for more international cooperation and the need for increased assistance, trust and leadership by developed nations, we also note that she made no mention of increasing Malaysia’s ambitions in our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Malaysia is on its way to fulfilling its current climate pledge – a reduction of 35% of emissions intensity of GDP by 2030 from 2005 levels, with an additional 10% contingent on the receipt of support from developed nations. As we approach 2020, a year when nations are meant to increase ambitions and NDCs, how will ours be strengthened?
As the minister said in her address, the word “urgency” was heavily mentioned at COP24. It can no longer be just a buzzword. It needs to stand for less talking and more immediate action. That starts with stronger and more ambitious NDCs from parties across the board, including Malaysia.
The minister’s track record in the past six months has been commendable, from the change to 1:1 ratio for solar energy sale prices to her campaign against the dangerous radioactive waste management of the Lynas Rare Earth Plant, YB Yeo has taken big strides forward. As Malaysia continues to move towards a greener economy, it is crucial to acknowledge the need for a Just Transition to ensure social equity.
Perhaps these bigger strides forward will come in the shape of her plans for a Climate Change Act, which she detailed in her interview with The Star on Wednesday, or in the shape of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which she mentioned in her speech in Poland. Both are commendable initiatives and, if passed into law, could be the kind of action Malaysia needs to address climate change.
At the same time, her plans for a climate change centre is encouraging and exciting news. We hope to see increased youth and civil society representation in the planning of these initiatives. In the spirit of intergenerational equity, we need to be included in the processes, discourse and planning of decisions that will affect us for decades to come. COP24 ended on Friday but climate change and our daily lives carry on.
We hope that YB Yeo continues to address the pertinent issues of climate change in Malaysia with strong urgency and greater climate action.
Malaysian Youth Delegation