Breaking down Malaysia’s climate commitments

Breaking down Malaysia’s climate commitments

Breaking down Malaysia’s climate commitments

Written by: Dhaartshini, Lim Kah Yau, Nat Zhai, Robin Goon 

Malaysia updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in August, stating its intention to unconditionally reduce economy-wide carbon intensity (against gross domestic product [GDP]) of 45% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. This is the first modification made to its NDCs, which were first submitted in 2015, and it represents a 10% increase in ambition.

In the previous version, Malaysia committed to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of GDP by 35% unconditionally and a further 10% conditional upon receipt of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries, by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

With this new NDC, it is worthwhile pondering if this increased ambition indicates that Malaysia has taken significant strides to mitigate GHG emissions in the past few years, and whether it has received sufficient assistance from developed countries. 

This article will aim to answer this question and also highlight where Malaysia could potentially do better to meet its climate commitments. 

For context, NDCs are submitted by countries who are parties to the Paris Agreement, reflecting the commitment by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to impacts of climate change. Every five years, an updated NDC has to be sent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, and each successive NDC must show progress from the previous version.

The achievement of NDCs are not legally binding. Signatories to the Paris Agreement are only legally obligated to submit an NDC. Additionally, developing countries do not have to adopt economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets as developed countries do. 

That is why some developing countries like Malaysia have opted to use reduction in emissions per unit of GDP as a target for its NDC. Emissions intensity refers to the GHG emissions per unit of economic activity, measured by the GDP levels. The downside of emissions intensity targets is that emissions can actually increase if the GDP increases. In contrast, an absolute GHG target results in an absolute reduction of GHG emissions. 

What is Malaysia doing to meet the NDCs?

Over the years, Malaysia has received financial or capacity building assistance from the Global Environment Facility, Germany, United Kingdom and other parties in various areas. The country has also introduced many policies to reduce GHG emissions. 

Malaysia’s NDC implementation time frame is from 2021 to 2030. Several important, new, national-level policies are also scheduled to be introduced in the near future. 

To understand what Malaysia has been doing to meet the NDCs so far, one can look at the country’s biennial update reports (BUR) to the UNFCCC, which is required of Paris Agreement signatories. 

In Malaysia’s third BUR submitted in 2020 (latest data from 2016), the emissions avoidance recorded comes from three main sectors: energy, waste and forestry. 

Chart 1: Summary of emissions avoidance achieved in 2016 

Mitigation actions in the forestry, energy and waste sectors contributed the most to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Malaysia

Source: Malaysia third BUR

From this table, one can see that most emissions avoidance was achieved by the forestry sector (20,307.5 Gg CO2 eq), followed far behind by the energy sector (9266.3 Gg CO2 eq) and the waste sector (6315.6 Gg CO2 eq). CO2 eq (equivalent) is a measure used to compare emissions from different GHG based on their global warming potential. 

Evidently, Malaysia relied heavily on the forestry sector — reducing deforestation, sustainable management of permanent reserved forest, forest certification schemes and other actions — to reduce emissions. 

How is Malaysia doing now?

Malaysia became a net greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter from 2004 onwards. 

The majority of emissions come from the energy sector, followed by waste and industrial processes and product use (IPPU). The Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector has been crucial to remove GHG emissions. However, it has not kept pace with the increase in emissions from other sectors, which explains why Malaysia became a net GHG emitter. 

Chart 2: The annual total GHG emissions from 1990-2016

Malaysia became a net greenhouse gas emitter from 2004 onwards

Source: Malaysia third BUR

As to where Malaysia stands currently with regards to its NDC target, the 12th Malaysia Plan indicates that Malaysia has achieved 29.4% reduction in GHG emissions intensity per unit of GDP by the end of 2016, compared to 2005 levels. 

Nevertheless, more actions that could contribute to the NDC target are coming up. A NDC Roadmap and National Adaptation Plan are expected to be introduced in these two years. Furthermore, the new Minister of Environment and Water has stated that a framework to improve and enforce climate change laws, a new carbon trading scheme and changes to the National Greenhouse Gases Inventory Centre are among the 10 key performance indicators for the ministry. 

A new renewable energy target of 31% and 40% by 2025 and 2035 in installed capacity was announced in July, the majority of which will be generated in the form of solar energy in Peninsular Malaysia at least until 2025. 

Meanwhile, the dominance of coal power plants in Peninsular Malaysia will be replaced by natural gas power plants from 2030 onwards, according to the Report on Peninsular Malaysia Generation Development Plan 2020. Utility-scale batteries will be installed from 2030 onwards to support renewable energy generation. 

Chart 3: Capacity Mix by Fuel (%) (2021-2039)

The dominance of coal as a fuel for electricity generation is expected to be replaced by natural gas in Peninsular Malaysia by 2030 

Source: Report on Peninsular Malaysia Generation Development Plan 2020

All these could be reasons why the government is confident that it can achieve the new NDC target, which it previously stated that it could only achieve with assistance from developed countries. 

How can Malaysia do better?

An argument for Malaysia to be more ambitious is that it could do much more to reduce emissions in the energy sector, particularly in terms of promoting renewable energy. 

This does not necessarily mean the country should increase its dependence on large-scale hydropower. 

The inclusion of hydropower in its energy supply was spurred by the Four-Fuel Diversification Policy in 1981 and the presence of large rivers with suitable elevation in nearly all Malaysian states. However, large-scale hydropower plants have resulted in the loss of land for many indigenous tribes in Malaysia, who have made their voices heard through protests. Environmental damage due to the submerging of huge tracts of land is also another contested topic. 

Instead, Malaysia could focus its efforts on increasing renewable energy generation from solar power and other sources, be it through expanded quotas for Feed-in Tariff (FiT), Net Energy Metering (NEM), Large Scale Solar (LSS) schemes; promotion of self-consumption schemes; or introduction of electricity market reforms that enable peer-to-peer trading, third party grid access and offsite RE generation.

Malaysia’s strategic location near the equator, coupled with its existing high energy reserve margins, substantiate its potential for more aggressive solar energy policies. In fact, some industry leaders have complained that current policies, such as the quota for RE in the electricity generation capacity mix, are limiting the adoption of renewable energy in the country. 

On the other hand, Malaysia’s reliance on LULUCF removals to meet its NDC target is a risk due to the continued encroachment of human activities into forest reserves, as seen with the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve degazettement by the Selangor government recently. The degazettement was only revoked after much public protest.

Additionally, the ability of trees to rapidly absorb carbon weakens with the warming planet. This drop in carbon sink effectiveness due to climate variability has also been “projected with high confidence” in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. A more worrisome consequence of unchecked climate change is that resulting occurrences such as forest fires may reverse the function of these sinks and instead, turn it into a carbon source.

What will it take?

While it is good to introduce comprehensive policies to tackle climate change, it is equally important to have consistent and good execution, as well as sufficient political will to enact lasting and impactful change. Malaysia has a mixed track record on this. 

The country’s actions towards a more sustainable economy started in the 1980s, with the government then adopting the Four-Fuel and Five-Fuel Diversification policies to wean Malaysia off petroleum dependence and diversify into natural gas, coal, hydropower and renewable energy. The plans were a success. By the end of 1995, Malaysia’s dependence on oil had reduced from almost 90% to less than 15%. 

Chart 4: Timeline of core national policies that drive the resource supply utilization in Malaysia

Malaysia began diversifying its energy source to include natural gas, hydropower and renewable energy in the 1980s

Source: The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies 

The Feed-in-Tariff (FiT), which pays renewable energy generators a premium rate over a period of time, was introduced in 2011. The quota for solar is no longer available, but FiT for biomass, biogas and small-hydro are still open. In 2016, the FiT was replaced by the NEM as the cost of solar panel installation became competitive.

However, the take-up rate for NEM quotas by 2018 was low because renewable energy generators had to sell electricity at a low displacement cost. This was corrected to a 1:1 offset basis in 2018. Subsequently, the quota taken up by commercial and industrial customers in nine months was three times more than what was achieved in the previous three years. 

These examples show that with sufficient political will, adjusting Malaysia’s energy portfolio is doable. However, ambiguities persist in some policy implementations. 

In the transportation sector, Kimura (2018) illustrated that the National Electric Mobility Blueprint  was intended to strengthen Malaysia’s electric mobility ecosystem and charging infrastructure. However, action on electric vehicle (EV) policies are minimal as of 2021. Instead, the National Automotive Policy (NAP) focused on the development of Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs). While this is laudable, it is not exactly expanding the implementation of electric mobility ecosystems. 

There is also the issue of policy inconsistency in Malaysia. In his unveiling of the National Forestry Policy in March, former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin highlighted the need to be proactive in conservation. A month after that, he unveiled the National Mineral Industry Transformation Plan 2021-2030, which intends to open swathes of land for mineral resources exploration. This dichotomy within the government reflects a lack of political will and direction in meeting Malaysia’s NDC.

All in all, Malaysia has taken many steps to meet its NDC, but there is much that could be improved, especially in terms of promoting renewable energy generation, protecting forest reserves as a carbon sink and in ensuring proper implementation of policies and roadmaps. Malaysia can increase its NDC target, but this will have to be followed with strong commitment, political will and transparency from all stakeholders. 


Abdul Latif S. N., Chiong M.S. & Rajoo, S. et al. (2021). The trend and status of energy resources and greenhouse gas emissions in the Malaysia power generation mix,

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Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. (n.d.). Q&A: Understanding Paris Agreement NDCs

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2021). Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

Joshi, D. (2019). Reduce total emissions, not just emissions intensity of GDP

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Kimura, S. (2018). An analysis of alternative vehicles’ potential and implications for energy supply industries in Indonesia

Liew Jia Teng. (2021). MPIA urges government to reassess RE quota allocation

Kementerian Alam Sekitar dan Air. (2021). Climate Change E-Colloquium 2021 and the Virtual Launch of Malaysia’s Third Biennial Update Report 

 Kementerian Alam Sekitar dan Air. (2021). JC3 Flagship Conference Fireside Chat 

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Yeo Bee Yin. (2020). Special report: Reform is fast becoming the only choice, The Edge Markets

About Malaysian Youth Delegation

Established in 2015, Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) is a youth-led organization in Malaysia, which focuses on climate change policy and negotiations, providing a platform for curious and interested youths to explore the world of climate agreements. MYD strives to educate the public on climate change policy by organizing training sessions and public talks. MYD also regularly engages with the Government of Malaysia on climate change policies. 

For more information, visit or email at 

GET REAL! Climate Change x Food Production x LCOY

GET REAL! Climate Change x Food Production x LCOY

Changes in the world’s climate has, and will continue to bring major shifts in food production. This includes the rise in temperature, increase in rainfall and coastal flooding that reduces the amount of land available for agriculture. In a nutshell, food crops and as it follows, food security, are sensitive to climate change.

After a successful SEEDS Malaysia back in 2014,  it is back this year with the theme “GET REAL”.

This year’s theme could not be more timely – as the world’s population grows at an alarming rate, the increasing demand for food has put a strain on the planet’s resources to cope with feeding billions of people.

The event will be happening on 19th – 21st October 2018 at Oasis Discovery Centre (ODC), Oasis Village.

Throughout SEEDS Malaysia 2018, 2 of these events will be happening concurrently;

–> Conference – Towards Sustainable Real Food 
( tickets here : )

–> Youth Forum – Climate Change & Real Food Production 
(tickets here : )  

Together with SEEDS, Power Shift Malaysia will participate as the youth counterpart. The Youth Forum is an event organised by the youth for the youth with the objective of raising awareness about climate change and food production. Topics from food production to youth action on climate change will be discussed throughout the event.

Do you know what is LAGI BEST?! SEEDS is providing sponsorship to those who are really interested to participate in this event! T&C applies.

Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge and climate change – Taiwan’s perspective

Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge and climate change – Taiwan’s perspective

“Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are on the frontline to suffer! Meanwhile, they’ve been inherited from the wisdom of thousand years in combating threat of climate change, too.” claimed Prof. Dr. Chien-Te Fan, Professor for National Tsing-Hua University and Director for Institute of Law for Science and Technology. The third seminar in Taiwan enlightened us with Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge and climate change – Taiwan’s perspective.

Prof. Dr. Chien-Te Fan, Professor for National Tsing-Hua University and Director for Institute of Law for Science and Technology

Indigenous peoples (IPs), defined by Indigenous Survival International are “distinct cultural communities with unique land and other rights based on historical use and occupancy… whose cultures, economies and identities are inextricably tied to their traditional lands and resources”.

Taiwan’s IPs are considered as part of Austronesian peoples. They share similar experience  like symbiosis with nature. Council of IPs of Taiwan stated that there are currently 530,000 IPs  which accounts for 2% of the whole population in Taiwan, but only 16 are officially recognised as indigenous tribes. Among the known IPs in taiwan are the Yami people, native to the outlying Orchid Island are skillful fishermen and relies on fishing for survival. Apart from that, when facing water shortage, a farmer suggested drought resistance farming where IPs normally practices seeds barter in fall season. The Amis tribe (Chinese: 阿美族; pinyin: āměi-zú; also Ami or Pangcah) also known as urban aborigines has been recently recognised for finding the way out under extreme weather conditions.

It is evident that IPs may contribute enormously in adapting with the climate change threat though their systemic living experience – cheaper and durable. Through the IP basic law, article 4, government shall guarantee equal status and development of self-governance of IP and implement IPs autonomy in accordance to their will. Taiwan are moving ahead by providing preservation of rights and cultural aboriginal heritage. IPs through (1) Status Act for Indigenous Peoples, (2) Organisation Act of the council of Indigenous Peoples, Organisational Act of Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Center, (3) Council of Aboriginal Peoples, (4) Act for the Establishment of the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation, (5) Protection Act for the traditional intellectual creations of Indigenous Peoples, (6) Indigenous Peoples Employment Rights Protection Art, and (7) The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law.

Henceforth, IPs in Taiwan may look forward as the laws helps safeguard their cultural rights, knowledge systems and practices and intellectual creations. In contempt of consensus among tribes for intellectual collection still has yet come to any group agreement. For instance, in Taitung county, only Tao tribe has submitted their application. Pastor Sakinu Tepiq (戴明雄) of the Paiwan tribe mentioned that rituals and artifacts among Paiwan people are still in discussion as there are differences to be understand. Equivalently, a cultural worker Dahai (達亥) of the Bunun tribe said that their polyphonic choral speaking issue is yet to be determined as it is similar with Malastapang ritual that praises hunters’ achievements.

It is fascinating to learn how diverse the world can be with the presence of IPs. Considering their potential of knowledge with the earth, we need to recognise them officially so the knowledge won’t extinct. Government plays an essential role to have adopt language shift and cultural assimilation so the IPs will not feel left out in the process.

Written by Liyana binti Yamin

Edited by Varun

The Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia Seminar on Climate Change was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Taiwan and coordinated by National Tsing Hua University. Malaysia Youth Delegation (MYD) was honoured to be invited and hosted by the generosity of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia. 

A Negotiator’s Understanding of the Complications for Indigenous People’s Engagement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

A Negotiator’s Understanding of the Complications for Indigenous People’s Engagement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Indigenous peoples (IPs), defined by Indigenous Survival International are “distinct cultural communities with unique land and other rights based on historical use and occupancy… whose cultures, economies and identities are inextricably tied to their traditional lands and resources”. They are self-defined as descendants of original inhabitants which share strong spiritual and economic attachment. With the vast majority of them in the Asian region, they may also be referred to as tribal people, hill tribes etc.

During the second seminar in Taiwan, Dr. Ian Fry, Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment, Government of Tuvalu and Lecturer of Australian National University explained about negotiating for the indigenous people’s rights in the climate change process. The question remains: how do we identify indigenous peoples from others? Seeing as not all countries are part of the UN negotiation. As stated in Rio+20, the participation of IPs are important for sustainable development in the global, regional, national, and subnational implementation.

Sometimes when we think we are producing clean energy, but indirectly it is actually destroying the IPs land. The hydro dams for example flood villages are destroying farmlands and hunting grounds and disrupting fishing patterns for IPs.

Agonisingly, IPs are greatly impacted from climate change, for instance, the melting of glaciers, permafrost in Alaska (where there is an increase in methane due to this process), severe drought in Africa and also an increase of temperature which has caused coral bleaching in the Pacific. Fortunately, IPs adapt to climate change as they work as herders, fishers, and hunters for their livelihood. With their collective knowledge, they are observant enough to see any tiny changes in water cycles, wildlife, soil, and weather.

Hence, IPs have key demands to protect their own rights of which we should consider. Recognition of their rights: rights of nature, promotion of development in harmony with nature, balancing ancestral knowledge and development as well as finally identifying priorities to address climate change. Consequently, Dr. Ian Fry provided the attendees with some tips for finding trade-offs alongside relevant examples to be practiced in the negotiation process.

  1. Use an exception – creating special situations for disadvantaged countries. Example: All countries have to reduce their emissions except Least Developed Countries
  2. Create a narrow start – having limited obligations at the beginning to develop points over time. Example: Limit restrictions to only ten chemicals
  3. Offer a broad brush approach – apply general rules to everyone. Example: All countries should develop adaptation plans
  4. Provide a compensation clause – create restrictions on an action but compensate poorer or disadvantaged countries for taking actions. Example: Countries that stop the use of CFCs will be given funding and the transfer of technology without patents to allow the use of other chemicals

Imperatively, slippery negotiating words like as appropriate, if appropriate, as necessary, if necessary give discretion to a country to decide whether an action is appropriate or not. Words like consider allow countries to think about it further and not necessarily make a decision. Another three essential words that change a statement are may (optional requirement, at the discretion of the party), should (an obligation created, but not compulsory) and shall (compulsory requirement).

It is also critical to invest time to know the issues we are dealing with, hear what others have to say, demonstrate respect for negotiating partners, show patience, show polite assertiveness, gain support of others and be inclusive, use language sensitively, understand the negotiating language, find common ground, accentuate the positive, handle pressure, know when to trade, lock-in agreements, and ultimately, to refrain from giving in early.

In a nutshell, the new UN platform will enable LCIPs to have an active role in shaping the process of climate change adaptation in a holistic and integrative manner.

Written by Liyana binti Yamin

Edited by Renee

The Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia Seminar on Climate Change was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Taiwan and coordinated by National Tsing Hua University. Malaysia Youth Delegation (MYD) was honoured to be invited and hosted by the generosity of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia. 

Local Communities and Indigenous People in the UNFCCC Process

Local Communities and Indigenous People in the UNFCCC Process

“We need them, and they need us to move forward”, Mr. Carlos Fuller

Mr. Carlos’s sentence lingered in my mind for till now. The fact that indigenous people and local communities held the knowledge and traditional practices in a holistic manner to combat climate change, it matters more for us to help strengthen their effort to establish the platform of knowledge exchange. The first seminar topic was on Local Communities and Indigenous People in the UNFCCC Process. Mr. Carlos Fuller, who was the Former Chair to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), explained the issue extensively with examples.

UNESCO plays a vital role to protecting and supporting to the indigenous people. Also, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has an ad hoc working group for the implementation of article 8J to respect, preserve and maintain the traditional knowledge and lifestyle of the indigenous people.

In addition, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which was adopted in 2007 established a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples. There is also the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which acts as a task force to promote effective engagement with indigenous and local knowledge holders in all relevant aspects of its work.

Local Communities and Indigenous People (LCIPs) have been involved in environmental processes ever since the United Nations discussion in Rio 1992. Principle 22 mentions that LCIPs plays a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. Additionally, the Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), an association that act as the caucus of interest in UNFCCC negotiating process have a unifying voice among all countries aims to make the powerful push to meet the demands of smaller developing states. Unfortunately, IIPFCC is yet to be acknowledged as an admitted observer organisation under UNFCCC. Among the current issues argued on indigenous people and local communities are stated as below:

  1. There are still no clear-cut on the definition of the indigenous people and local communities.
  2. No permanent/temporary working group
  3. Mode of work through consensus/majority/observers are still undefined
  4. Geographic borders to identify indigenous people might be a problem as some are nomadic.
  5. Validation of indigenous people and local community knowledge.
  6. Local communities have no established organisation

Despite the various recognised rights of the IPs, the previous COP23 has only “noted” adoption of DRIPS. A platform for knowledge which functions to be a facilitative workgroup for climate policies and action and capacity for engagement should be established. As declared in Article 16 of UNDRIP, indigenous people are free to access to non-indigenous media to advertise their own media in their own language without any discrimination.

By understanding the core principles of indigenous people and local communities: full participation, given equal status, self-selection, and adequate funding for them will enable recognition of their rights and interests. As suggested by Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the guide to solidify the platform is by:

  • Through an incremental approach to ensure effective operationalisation
  • Dual leadership role.
  • Open multi-stakeholder

For the upcoming COP24, a draft decision has been made to solidify the plan. Establishing a facilitative working group will be discussed whether to make it permanent or temporary. The mode of work, membership and work plan for LCIP will still be a concern as there may be a conflict of interest. However, it is always good to reflect back on previous agreements with no “cherry picking”.

In conclusion, indigenous people and local communities play an essential role in UNFCCC process to be protected. Having an operationalised platform for LCIPs, it can provide a space to exchange of experience of the best practices, enable their engagement in UNFCCC and other relevant processes, also allowing integration of the knowledge respecting the systems to be communicated into climate change agenda.

Written by Liyana binti Yamin

Edited by Varun

The Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia Seminar on Climate Change was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Taiwan and coordinated by National Tsing Hua University. Malaysia Youth Delegation (MYD) was honoured to be invited and hosted by the generosity of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia. 

RM1.4 billion spent in just two months – Time to end fuel subsidies

RM1.4 billion spent in just two months – Time to end fuel subsidies

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



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.