*Plays Drake in the background*
Prior to COP24, I attended a strategy talk session organized by the Climate Action Network (CAN), where they gave an overview of NGO engagement strategies and expectations of negotiation items coming out of COP 24. Having followed the SBI, SBSTA, CMA and APA progress during Bangkok, I am wary that Parties will be able to finalize the Paris Rulebook. Now dubbed the Katowice Rulebook by our Polish counterparts, the rulebook is essential to the implementation of climate goals and ambitions attributed in the Paris Agreement. However, in this short blurb, I would like to shift the focus away from what we want to happen at COP and put things into what it means to Malaysia.
During the side event discussions in the Conference of Youth (COY 14) and the CAN meeting, I noticed the emphasis placed on engaging local stakeholders and policy makers. As COP 24 commences, the focus will be on implementation standards on the international stage. However, the real action will take place on the ground. Youth and civil society organizations (CSOs) voices echoed that we definitely need to be aware of the outcomes of the PAWP among other things, but more importantly, we need to make sure the promises will be implemented by individual Parties.
One of the groups I facilitated during COY 14 – a source of inspiration to do more.
So, how do you hold your government accountable?
Step one: You dig around for past legislation and policies relevant level governance (ie. Malaysia, Petaling Jaya, your bandar/community)
Step two: You look at what has been plated and the actions carried out under the stated objectives (ie. Sustainable Petaling Jaya 2030’s goals on a cleaner, greener sustainable city and its free city bus programs)
Step three: Identify areas of success and what could be improved (ie. You liked the bus but you want more bus frequency at the stop in front of your office)
Step four: Submit your suggestions (ie. Go to community meetings, write to them, gather support from people who share similar views as you)
Step five: Follow up!
I took the liberty of looking into Malaysia’s history of climate legislation and policies, partly because I am not well-acquainted with Malaysian law and policy. I found that within the legislative framework, the only relevant statutes have focused solely on fuel and energy supply. Additionally, climate change only popped up on the agenda in the 2010s. The earliest legislative literature is the 1990 Electricity Supply Act that provides guidance on how to regulate energy supply and the energy industry to provide fair and equal access to electricity nationwide. 2013 amendments were introduced to improve minimum energy performance standards (MEPs) for selected electrical appliances, including household utilities. 17 years later, the Malaysian legislature started to regulate biofuel blends under the Malaysia Biofuels Industry Act (2007). These Acts are important in constructing accessible, accountable and efficient energy infrastructure in Malaysia. However, the push for renewable energy took place rather recently, with the formulation of the Renewable Energy Act in 2011 and the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Act in 2011. On an executive level, Malaysia’s five-year development plans have also included strong energy focus, complementing the existing legislation. The 8th to 10th Malaysia Development Plans led to the culmination of the Renewable Energy Act and SEDA Act in 2011.
Around this period, the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, tabled the climate change agenda under his administration. In 2009, he announced in COP 15 and 2014 UN Climate Summit that Malaysia will commit to a reduction of up to 40% of carbon emission intensity of GDP by 2020, using a baseline of 2005 conditions. Stepping up to climate action ambition, Malaysia released its National Policy on Climate Change through the then Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The framework emphasized on mainstreaming climate change, and strengthening institutional and implementation capacity. Even though there are 43 actions and 10 strategic thrusts listed in the policy, actions taken so far have not been substantive.
We observe a similar dynamic with implementing Malaysia Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), published in 2015 as part of Malaysia’s statement of ambition before the ratification of the Paris Agreement. Pledging to an unconditional intended reduction of 35%, the government has not moved forward in aligning Malaysia’s policies for completion before 2030. With the recent change in the Malaysian government, Pakatan Harapan in the PH Manifesto pledged 40% of carbon emissions reduction by 2020, and an increase of renewable energy from 2% to 20% by 2025. However, we have not seen significant measures to implement these administrative measures.
Our minister will be attending the second week of High Level Segment negotiations next week. Even though Malaysia has not made big splashes as a stakeholder at COPs, I would like to know clearer goals and plans she has on climate action in Malaysia. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Malaysia should hit the ground running moving towards goals of 2020, 2025, 2030 and beyond. YB Yeo Bee Yin, I would like to see a specific and integrated policy framework to address Malaysia’s ambitions in relation to the Paris Agreement and to Malaysia’s own part to become more sustainable.
Written by Cai May
Edited by Varun