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.
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