Final Day of COY14: Memories to Take Back

Final Day of COY14: Memories to Take Back

The third and final day of COY started like a whirlwind as we arrived late to the venue hence it made me feel like I was chasing for the spokes council meeting. It was to no avail as by the time I had reached the room the session had ended. However, I did find part of the BLT team working on a document in preparation for the bilateral meeting with the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN PGA). Wanting to make up for lost productivity as a result of my tardiness, I decided to join the party.

Basically, the agenda of the meeting was to have the President deliver a keynote speech, after which questions will be directed to her, ranging from human rights, health, and climate refugees. As the UN General Assembly covers a range of topics, we decided it to be appropriate for her to address topics of wide scope, though it was agreed upon that they touch on climate change, one way or another.

Pressed for time, we urgently drafted 6 questions in which we needed to do prior research too. After that, we had to allocate a question to a person and when it came down to choosing between the final two people who hadn’t been allocated a question yet, the other candidate suggested that I should be the one to deliver considering I had done research on it. That was a very nice gesture from her, albeit the question being a back-up in the case that we have extra time with the UN PGA.

Having worked on the document for what must’ve been at least 3 straight solid hours (this was after working on the Renewable Energy (RE) position paper for half a day previously), I felt I deserved a reward in the form of hot chocolate (trust me that the hot chocolate at the COY venue, University of Silesia, was to die for). Hence I made my way to the cafeteria.

Barely 5 minutes into settling down at the cafeteria, a message was sent regarding representatives needed from respective working groups in delivering a closing statement during the COY closing ceremony. Exasperated at not having the time to even take a bite, I made my way to the room to prepare the closing statement on behalf of RE.

To my surprise, the RE working group was not included in the initial list of speakers to deliver a closing statement. However, seeing that not many representatives appeared for the preparatory meeting for the closing ceremony, Clara, the Global North Focal Point, was kind enough to give me a slot, provided I could keep the statement at a maximum of one minute. Preparing the statement was relatively straightforward considering we already have a position paper to work from.

After finishing with that segment, we found ourselves having to attend the bilateral with the UN PGA straightaway. It was pretty amazing to have been able to sit in the same table with the President of the General Assembly. Her Excellency Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés was a very lovely and down to earth person. She communicated that prior to the bilateral, she had just arrived in Katowice 4 hours ago, but was insistent with engaging with YOUNGO. Basically, the session started off with Yugratna, the Global South Focal Point laying out the agenda before the floor: H.E. was to start the session with her keynote, after which the floor will be opened for questions delivered by those who have been chosen earlier. As opposed to asking a total of 8 questions that was drafted earlier on, however, Yugratna instructed that a total of 6 questions will be delivered instead, where one of them was mine.

Once we were done with the bilateral, we immediately had to make way to the closing ceremony of COY. It was a lively event as there were several VIPs in attendance, including H.E. Maria Espinosa Graces (UN PGA), H.E. Patricia Espinosa (UNFCCC Executive Secretary and Michal Kurtyka (COP24 Presidency), among others. Prior to that, however, the respective working groups had the opportunity to deliver closing statements before the audience and I was pleased to say that in delivering the statement on behalf of renewable energy, it went smooth.

Here I was delivering a closing statement on behalf of the RE working group during the COY closing ceremony.

    After the session, I felt pretty pleased with myself, not so much in grabbing an opportunity to speak before an audience, but how in being able to represent a working group as a spokesperson, I take it as a culmination of participatory involvement with YOUNGO, something I can’t say for myself last year, during COY13. In hindsight, this has been a most productive and fruitful COY for me, something I will definitely take back and use it as a source of motivation with regards to taking initiative within space for youth.

    Written by: Syaqil Suhaimi

    Edited by: Jasmin Irisha

    Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

    Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

    On 6 December, it was a day of celebration for youths at COP in what was called the Young and Future Generations (YoFuGe) Day. On top of showcasing climate action powered by youths, it was a day where we could speak up in communicating our aspirations for a just climate future.

    During the opening ceremony of YoFuGe Day, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Malaysian youths. Here, I shared upon how 2018 has been a healthy year for youth climate involvement as Malaysian youths have had the opportunity to attend climate conferences throughout the ASEAN region.

    We had youths attending the Asia-Pacific Climate Week conference in Singapore, in July. In September, we had representatives attending the UNFCCC SB48-2 Bangkok Climate Change Conference. In October, we had a representative attend the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Forum in Manilla. In November, there was the ASEAN Pre-COP Capacity Building Workshop in Singapore (The Malaysian node happened in October) as well as, for the first time ever, our very own Local Conference of Youth (LCOY).

    I stressed how ASEAN as well as nearby regions still very much focus on the rapid growth of their economies. Therefore, the youth need to provide checks and balances, not only to governments but also to large corporations whom still very much rely on extraction in generating profits at a maximum. In demanding for Just Transition, the youth aren’t just asking for the transition from coal to renewable energy, but by transitioning into 2030, we would still want a world with a hospitable and livable climate.

    When it comes to climate diplomacy, the ASEAN and nearby regions have not been as prominent as its Western counterparts, but it’s about time that we start putting the environment, let alone climate change, at the top of our agenda. Not only would we need to strengthen our NDCs in light of the Special Report on 1.5, but we need Parties to commit to launching domestic processes to strengthen NDCs. The importance of multi-stakeholder participation cannot be stressed enough.

    Speaking on behalf of Malaysian youths in its growing climate movement across ASEAN.

    Where others argue that economic development will not be sacrificed in the name of climate change and that we shall not pay for the sins of others, I implore that they reflect on such a position. Where a country’s policies are still geared towards providing fuel subsidies, plantations are being built in the name of carbon sinks (having totally disregarded that huge areas of land have to be deforested anyway), and where public transportation projects are being scrapped as a result of a tight national budget (only for there to be conversations of another national car), I implore such parties to ponder upon and “welcome”, rather than “take note”, the special report on 1.5. Because in sticking to the status quo, by being content with the mentality of ‘business-as-usual’, who’s to say that we won’t even have an economy to build as early as 2030?

    Written by: Syaqil Suhaimi

    Edited by: Mike

    [Media Statement] Malaysian Youth Delegation Responds to YB Yeo’s Address at the UN Climate Change Conference

    MALAYSIAN YOUTH DELEGATION RESPONDS TO YB YEO’S ADDRESS AT THE UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

    The minister makes a strong call for cooperation and leadership from developed nations

    KATOWICE, POLAND, 13 December 2018 — Yang Berhormat Yeo Bee Yin, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, addressed the high-level segment of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) here in Poland yesterday. The Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD) 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 supports the minister’s call 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 (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, has come 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 stand firm and insist on upholding this principle.

    We fully support the minister’s call for developed nations to fulfill their moral obligations to provide financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building to the developing world. This is reiterated in YB Yeo’s exclusive interview in the article “Finding green finance” published in The Star today. Climate finance is crucial for Malaysia to continue to thrive and prosper, while actively executing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

    It is disheartening that YB Yeo did not highlight the importance of finalising the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) which is meant to set us on a pathway to limit warming to 1.5ºC by 2100. There was also no reference to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5ºC, which has indicated that the world is on its way to 1.5ºC 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 it’s 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 exclaimed in her address, the word “urgency” has been 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 6 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 controversial 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 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 an exclusive interview with The Star, or in the shape of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which she mentioned in her speech here 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 are 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 ends on the 14th of December 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.

    ###

    ABOUT THE MALAYSIAN YOUTH DELEGATION (MYD)

    A Malaysian civil society organisation consisting 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. Find out more at http://powershiftmalaysia.org.my/.

    For enquiries, please contact:

    Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham | j.irishailham@gmail.com | 018-463 4594

    Mike Campton | michael.campton@gmail.com | 012-273 8180

    mydclimatechange@gmail.com

    YB Yeo at UN Climate Talks: We are better together

    YB Yeo at UN Climate Talks: We are better together

    Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, YB Yeo Bee Yin, addressed the high-level segment at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland today. She called for more trust from developed nations, less burdensome reporting, and immediate action, together.

    See below for the video and transcript of her address:

    YB YEO BEE YIN SPEAKING AT HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT AT COP24, KATOWICE, POLAND

    YB Yeo Bee Yin(杨美盈) speaking at High Level Segment COP24

    Posted by Malaysian Youth Delegation #MYD on Rabu, 12 Disember 2018

     

    Thank you Mr. President. Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Yeo Bee Yin. I’m from Malaysia, a beautiful, developing country of 30 million people in Southeast Asia. After 61 years of independence, Malaysia has just experienced the first change of government in May this year, and I have been appointed Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change in July, which is about 5 months ago.

    So, I’m really a new kid on the block. But let me share with you what I think as a new kid on the block on Paris Agreement, UNFCCC, and COP24. 3 years ago, when Paris Agreement was signed, as someone outside the system looking at it, I was impressed. It was a big feat to get more than 190 countries to finally agree on something. We all know that sometimes we also have difficulties in getting our other halves at home to agree with us, not to mention the 190 countries.

    Today, I am inside the system in COP24, but I must say that I am disappointed.  To note that after three years, there are still attempts to deviate from the very cornerstone of Paris Agreement, climate justice, the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, and the equity in the right to develop and to prosper among the developing countries and the least developed world.

    How long more do we need to keep going back, keep going back, keep going back  to what the basic principles that we have agreed three years ago. How long more before it is too late?

    Worst still, I have actually had a look at the financial assistance Malaysia obtained so far, and I was very surprised to note that considerable amount of assistance that we have received so far is to produce reports for UNFCCC obligations or to build the capacity to produce the reports.

    How is paperwork going to help our countries and help the world? Very ironically I have come here, I have listened [to] these words, keep on listening [to] these words – urgency, urgency, urgency. Ladies and gentlemen, transparency doesn’t necessarily mean burdensome paperwork. We must know that perfecting reports and making them even thicker will not help to change the world. Real action and aggressive actions will.

    So, let me say this, I call upon more trust from the developed countries. Transparency is okay, but do not burden us with unnecessary paperwork please, because we really have no time and we really need to act.

    Since we changed the government in Malaysia, Malaysia has been aggressive in our climate change action. Let me share with you a little bit of what we have done. We’ve set a new target to increase our renewable energy in electricity generation mix from 2% to 20%. This excludes large hydro above 100MW. To unlock potential of rooftop solar, we revealed net energy metering policy and introduced solar leasing policy to allow zero up-front cost of solar PV installation.

    For other renewable energy, such as biogas, biomass [and] small hydro under the feed-in-tariff mechanism, we introduced e-bidding to maximise the potential of renewable energy funds. We have planned to open up our grid by 2019 to allow renewable energy trading.

    We’re going big on energy efficiency too, and government is leading by example. As a matter of fact, as I am talking to you right now, my team is busy finalizing [a] energy performance contract. So, we will be able to tender out energy efficiency projects for at least 50 government buildings by Q2 next year, and we will also table the first draft of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act by mid of next year.

    In terms of financing, [the] government of Malaysia [will] continue [to] bring financing scheme that give loan guarantees and interest subsidies for green industrial players. Recognising the importance of private financing, we [have] also started drafting green financing roadmap and aim to complete them by Q3 next year.

    In terms of waste management, we have developed a launch in October – a roadmap towards zero single use plastic by 2030.

    In terms of transport, we aim to reduce the carbon emission, we aim to double up our public transport usage from 20% to 40% by 2030. We have recently just launched a very low flat rate unlimited ride monthly pass program to promote the use of public transport.

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. In [the] Chinese language, crisis is “WeiJi”. “Wei” means danger and “Ji” means opportunity. There is opportunity in every danger. Many of the initiatives I share with you here are not penalizing us economically but is making good business sense for us in Malaysia.

    In the midst of climate change crisis, Malaysia wants to encourage all of us, to see this as an opportunity to develop green economy that create jobs and wealth for the world.

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, just now I share[d] with you many of the efforts, but all these efforts [are] done within six months and with very little help from the developed countries. Before I decided to attend COP24, I asked myself, why did I need to come here?

    I have many real actions to do at home. In fact, why [does] Malaysia needs to burn so much carbon and money to send our delegation here? It is because [of] our firm belief that Malaysia can do more and can do better with the support of [the]  international community. Malaysia can also help others to do better. To simply put, we are better together.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we are in this fight together. Let’s fight this together. And most importantly let’s win this together. With that, I’d like to wish [for] a successful COP24, and on behalf of Malaysia, I wish every country presents here a fruitful year of fighting climate change with real action. Thank you.

    My First Day at COP24

    My First Day at COP24

    On this cold December morning, I peeled myself out of the warm bed and prepared for my first day of COP24. It was my 3rd full day in Poland, having attended the second and third day of COY 14, and newly reunited with my lost suitcase just the night before. I held myself to have somewhat low expectations going into COP, believing that maybe I could trick my mind into enjoying cheap thrills of satisfaction. Did it work? Of course not. I saw a cloud of confusion looming ahead, but you know what? I packed my umbrella.

    I departed from the sleepy town of Dąbrowska Górnicza with two other delegates from Duke University and reached the Międzynarodowe Centrum Kongresowe in Katowice early. The 25-minute train ride propelled us forwards by 20 years of industrial revolution, passing by two power plants and mostly unpaved roads, and into the gleaming city of Katowice. Our tram ride from the station was quick. The Katowice convention center was like a shiny beacon, beckoning throngs of people from all directions. As crowd of attendees grew larger, I could feel more butterflies coming to live in my stomach. Up to this point, I have only read and dreamed about COP. Never have I been more satisfied to have my official badge scanned at the entrance, as I (basically) combusted internally out of sheer excitement.

    I made it! COP24 in Katowice, Poland

    After checking in, I explored the conference layout It was nice to see the shiny new exhibition booths, the neatly lined chairs in the big, empty plenary, the empty coat racks, and the eager, fresh faces of attendees. The only events scheduled for the day were opening plenary sessions for COP, CMP, CMA, APA, SBI, and SBSTA. We managed to score tickets to attend the opening plenary for COP, CMP and CMA, courtesy of the Climate Action Network. It was surreal being able to see agenda items come to life on the floor, as opposed to reading them on paper and thinking about them conceptually.

    Although I was seated in the observer section, I was able to pick up on the reality of negotiations and how bureaucratic the procedure was. Being able to observe the official procedures of plenary sessions gave me context to grapple how “negotiations” actually happen. The session provided context to the agenda items that I read off my computer screen. Agenda items require many subgroup discussions and outcome reports, and then further discussion with the larger body, before being sent off to high-level plenaries. I could see how a potentially substantive push from a Party could be watered by the many layers of deliberation and finalization by power dynamics and the urgency for ‘collective’ decision-making. With that said, I was still extremely excited to attend the plenaries to track subsidiary body agenda items, and observe the decisions go from table to paper!

    4 of 5 of the MYD delegation – Shaqib, myself, Varun and Syaqil, in the plenary hall.

    My first day experience taught me an important lesson to stick to what I am interested in learning, because COP24 has various events running throughout the day. The first day alone gave me an overview of the week to come, because the agenda catalog was not your simple grocery list. As I begin my first big COP week, I am frantically pouring over every relevant article I come across to offset my feelings of inadequacy. Rubbing shoulders with important and significant stakeholders did not help either. But like I said, I did bring my umbrella along.

    Written by Tan Cai May
    Edited by Mike Campton

    Malaysia’s NDCs – In my feelings

    Malaysia’s NDCs – In my feelings

    *Plays Drake in the background*

    Cześć!

    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