It’s been just over two months since the Pakatan Harapan coalition came into power. In that time, the Malaysian government has spent RM1.4 billion on fuel subsidies, as estimated by Rafizi Ramli in a recent blogpost. Soon after winning GE-14, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the weekly price float mechanism for RON95 and diesel would be removed, fixing them at RM2.20 and RM2.18 per liter respectively. This price fix will remain in place until the end of the year as the government studies potential avenues to implement its targeted fuel subsidy policy outlined in the PH manifesto.
Continued subsidies will only portray an artificially low cost of fuel to the rakyat, while encouraging private vehicle usage, leading to more urban road congestion and increased carbon emissions. This leads us down a dangerous path of normalizing subsidies once again – at a time when it’s more important than ever to wean off fossil fuel consumption. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Malaysia has shown its commitment to reaching our global temperature increase target. The reintroduction of fuel subsidies completely contradicts our contributions to solving the global climate crisis. The government is paying money to continue to emit carbon, at a time when expenditure is becoming increasingly scrutinised.
The moral reasons notwithstanding, the reintroduction of fuel subsidies may be popular and well received by the general Malaysian population. The Pakatan Harapan coalition ran on a pro-Rakyat, pro-welfare platform, emphasizing the need for a reform to the high cost of living. Throwing fuel subsidies into the bucket of tactics to reduce cost of living is short sighted and this is where we need to have a conversation about externalised costs.
While the rakyat may benefit from more affordable fuel at point of sale, the true cost – or externalised cost – is not appropriately accounted for. When we pay RM2.20 per liter at the petrol station, we are not considering the cost of health implications from pollution, the cost of loss of biodiversity, the cost of loss of agricultural productivity, along with all other hidden costs related to carbon emissions and climate change. While even the market price of fuel would not adequately cover all of these additional externalised costs, we should not be paying any less than that. When considering the welfare of the rakyat, the Pakatan Harapan government needs to have more future-oriented solutions revolving around sustainable development, good public transportation and renewable energy policies – further supporting the PH government’s manifesto item on increasing renewable energy to 20% by 2025.
In the era of fiscal responsibility, Malaysia could really use the savings from the removal of subsidies. While deterring increased use of fossil fuels, the savings could be used to incentivise more renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the country. As a point of reference, just before GE-14, the Green Technology Financing Scheme was recently renewed for a period of five years from 2018 to 2022, to the tune of up to RM5 billion. To put that into perspective, at its current rate, the government will spend RM5 billion on fuel subsidies in under eight months. A Malaysia that prioritises good public transportation infrastructure and services, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects instead of fossil fuels is a Malaysia that is on the right track of developing in a sustainable manner.
[Tweet “we need drastic (climate) action now, and it starts with us quitting our fossil fuel addiction”]
While the fiscal argument to removing fossil fuel subsidies may be more convincing, we still need to make the moral argument. Over the last two centuries, the world has been built upon fossil fuels, with carbon-intensive development led by the West. This is the very premise to the argument that developed nations bear historical responsibility when it comes to fighting climate change. While Malaysia ought to champion the principle of equity on the international stage, we also need to be doing our part at home. By cutting fuel subsidies and throwing our full weight into sustainable mobility and renewable energy, we can lead the way, specifically in the Southeast Asia region, in actively finding ways to solve the climate crisis.
So here we stand – at a nation-defining juncture. #MalaysiaBaharu represents new hope for many. The question remains: do we want to look at the wellbeing of Malaysians only for the next five years, or for the next 50? We can either bid goodbye to a safe and secure future for our youth, or we can act now and make a difference. To get on a 2°C pathway, in line with the Paris Agreement, we need to take drastic (climate) action now, and it starts with us quitting our fossil fuel addiction. With strong political will, we can make a just energy transition happen.
Written by Mike
Read also: Fuel price hike statement
Date: 20 July 2018
ABOUT THE MALAYSIAN YOUTH DELEGATION (MYD)
A group of young passionate Malaysians who represent the local youth climate movement at international climate conferences, such as the annual Conference of the Parties, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dedicated to raising awareness of climate policies amongst Malaysians, the youth are mentored and trained to translate technical policies into more relevant and relatable information for the public. MYD holds speaking engagements with various climate organisations to better understand the current landscape of local and international climate policy. With that, MYD endeavours to hold Malaysian leaders accountable for the promises made at international climate summits.
TheStar 10th November 2017
Malaysian youths at UN climate change meet – TheStar
SEVEN members of the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) are attending the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
The conference, which is convening until Nov 17, is attended by delegates from 197 United Nations member countries.
The Malaysian youth delegates are Muhammad Azamuddeen Mohammad Nasir, 20, Ooi Xiandi, 21, Sheikh Muhammad Syaqil Suhaimi, 22, Lhavanya Dharmalingam, 23, Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham, 23, Thomas Lai Yoke Hwa, 25, and Michael Campton, 27.
They began preparing for the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) earlier this year, beginning with an initiation retreat in March.
Since then, the delegates have organised training sessions with speakers well-versed on climate change issues and policy in Malaysia, including Chee Yoke Ling from Third World Network and Lavanya Rama Iyer from WWF.
In total, there were seven sessions held in the training series, with the aim of both building capacity of the youth delegates as well as informing the public on climate change issues in Malaysia and at the United Nations.
Syaqil, who is attending his first COP, said he was excited about the prospect of being part of the largest Malaysian youth delegation thus far.
“It is great to know that the Malaysian youth delegation has grown since its inception in 2015.
“It is a reflection that, slowly but surely, more Malaysian youths are aware of the threats posed by climate change and that we believe we can make a difference,” said Syaqil.
Jasmin, who attended COP22 in Marrakesh, said she was looking forward to learning more about the climate negotiations at COP23, “especially in the area pertaining to the Facilitative Dialogue and Global Stocktake.”
Over the next two weeks, the youth delegates will be attending plenaries, coordination meetings, side events, working groups and other sessions as the negotiations progress from last year’s COP22 in Morocco and the year before COP21 in France where the Paris Agreement was formally adopted.
In addition to holding capacity building sessions for the public, the Malaysian Youth Delegation programme was also focused on tracking negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, deciphering them and reporting back to Malaysia via http://powershiftmalaysia.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter at @PowerShiftMsia.
At this year’s COP, one major focus point surrounds the need for countries to ramp up their ambitions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in reference to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Based on the current NDCs submitted by countries in 2015, the global average temperature increase is likely to hit 3°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, well above the 2°C limit set in the Paris Agreement.
The team also had the unique experience of hosting the first ever Youth Forum on Climate Change at the Malaysia Pavilion yesterday.
All of these activities, events, meetings, tracking of negotiations and reporting will culminate in a post-COP forum that will be held back in Malaysia to debrief and inform the public on the developments at COP.
To follow the Malaysian Youth Delegation team at COP23 in Bonn, visit http://powershiftmalaysia.org.my or follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2017/11/10/msian-youths-at-un-climate-change-meet-group-of-seven-delegates-taking-part-in-talks-in-germany/
We, the Malaysian Youth Delegation have produced a youth statement in response to US withdrawal from Paris Agreement on last Monday.
Moreover, THE STAR spiced up our statement by giving us media exposure in the news today. You can read the full text below
THE Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD), a group of young passionate Malaysians who represent the local youth climate movement at international climate conferences, expresses its deepest disappointment in the United States’ decision to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement.
We would like to express our gratitude to the editor as well as The Star for including our statement in the newspaper. We appreciate your willingness to publish a candid response. Ultimately, we are also grateful to The Star for allowing the voice of the youth to be heard.
22 November 2016
Nachatira Thuraichamy at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
A third year Law student recently won the rare opportunity to attend a UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech.
Nachatira Thuraichamy, who studies Law and is part of the School’s Environmental Law Clinic Pro Bono scheme, travelled to Morocco between 7 – 18 November to observe this year’s UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conference is the first meeting of the 197 parties of the UNFCCC since last year’s historic Paris Agreement. The agreement entered into force on the 4 November and sets out a global action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Nachatira, along with other students of the Environmental Law and Justice module, was invited to bid for funds to attend the conference on behalf of the University. “Although there was a lot of interest amongst her fellow students Nachatira’s application stood out,” said Dr Ben Pontin, Module leader and Director of the Environmental Law Clinic. “It was strengthened by her involvement in the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD).” MYD is the only youth-based climate policy organisation in Malaysia. The group raise awareness and engage in capacity building to increase youth participation in Malaysian climate policy.
Giving students opportunities such as this is part of the School’s engagement mission. The Environmental Law Clinic Pro Bono Scheme which Nachatira is a part of, is run in partnership with The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF); one of the world’s oldest pro bono environmental law advice and representation charities. Professor Julie Price, who is in charge of the School’s Pro Bono provision, said, “The scheme aims to give a voice to ordinary people and communities on matters affecting the environment in which they live. Cardiff’s clinic covers enquiries relating to Wales and helps individuals and communities facing environmental issues such as air and water quality, noise pollution, threats to wildlife habitat and biodiversity, use of public open spaces and threats to those spaces.”
Speaking of her time at the conference, Nachatira said, “It was a phenomenal experience that opened my eyes to the intricacies involved in international climate policy. It was an amazing opportunity to track negotiations, understand the implications of the various positions held by the constituencies as well as learn from experts themselves.”
It is hoped that Nachatira’s opportunity at the conference will be an experience that will be shared by many more students in future as the University has recently applied for observer status to the UNFCCC. Once the University has obtained this status it will be able to offer a limited number of researchers and students the opportunity to observe these international climate change events each year.
Dr Hannah Hughes who will be the University’s UNFCCC contact point said of the status, “This will provide us with an important opportunity to experience these international events and to study their significance to the global community’s climate change response.”