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

Youth Gathering in Katowice

Youth Gathering in Katowice

The main entrance of the COY14 venue

2A gathering for youth formally known as the Conference of Youth (COY) happened in the middle of University of Silesia, Poland. This would be the 14th COY and the focus of the gathering this time would be on the capacity-building process, policy operation and preparation, implementation and climate finance.

This year’s COY had a bit of a twist because they introduced the regional breakout groups before ending the day. The reason why they created the regional breakout groups is to make it easier to discuss mobilization and lobbying issues with a regional focus. These regional breakout groups include a sharing session on how each constituent country can create awareness and a course of action on a national level, as well also focus on the indicators of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Action Climate Empowerment (ACE) is another primary element that was discussed among Youth Constituency (YOUNGO) members with the UNFCCC Secretariat through a bilateral capacity-building meeting. The main agenda for that meeting included enhancing the capability of ACE in terms of mobilization and education based on Article 6 of United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (or known as The Convention).

More than 192 NGOs from 72 countries are with YOUNGO to mobilize youth around the world to educate them on climate action and the lobbying process. More than 1,500 youths from all over the world have attended COY’s sessions and are dedicated to ensure change for future generations.

The site for COY was quite hectic and a lot of youths came in and out while participating in the various activities that were available there. There were roughly 20 different activities that covered the focus of this year’s COY. The main hall where the opening speech was held was crowded and fully-seated. The opening speeches were delivered by multiple stakeholders such as Student Government and Board members of the University of Silesia, a Board Member of the Rozdzienski Institute, and YOUNGO Focal Points Yugratna Srivastava and Clara Von Glasow. YOUNGO’s presentations were prepared by their Bottom-lining team.

By the end of the opening speech, there was a presentation on the Local Conference of Youth (LCOY), the national and sometimes regional equivalent of its global counterpart. The presentation and subsequent sharing session covered almost every continent in the world and covered the activities and outcomes of each LCOY.

The first day of the conference was packed with sessions and activities. Everyone was happy with the outcome and the input they received on the first day of the conference itself. Some of the input has been practical for the working groups in the COP Team as well. It’s only just been the first day of the conference though, and there will be another two days before ending the youth conference and the start of the 24th Conference of Parties (COP24). COP24 will take place in Międzynarodowe Centrum Kongresowe (MCK Spodek), Katowice for the next two weeks after the end of COY14..

Written by Shaqib Shahril

Edited by M. O. Denney

First Day at COY14: A personal reflection

First Day at COY14: A personal reflection

After traveling for a total of about 48 hours, I was more than glad to settle into our quaint little apartment, lock, stock and barrel. After what seemed like an eternity of brisk walking, navigating and mad-bursts to catch buses and trains, it was pretty difficult not to lose one’s self in a hot steamy shower followed by well-deserved slumber.

MYD’s COP24 team at COY14, from left to right: Syaqil, Varun, Cai May, Liyana and Shaqib

Ironically enough, the mad-bursts to catch trams and/or buses, on top of the occasional grab, did not stop – as evident during the first day of COY 14. Having left our Airbnb at 6.15 in the morning to catch the 7 o’clock bus to Katowice seemed straight forward, until it dawned upon us that the chance of getting lost in an unfamiliar city is too familiar a likelihood. Not only did we miss Bus 141 which was to take us to the tram station that was supposed to take us to Blonia Park – where the COP bus will be stationed – Tram 24 cynically decided to appear on the other side of the road, leaving us in a state of disbelief. Determined not to have our spirits dampened by a triviality, we decided to walk to Blonia Park, being aware that it was a straight path anyway, albeit it being the road less travelled – or so it looked that way.

After having walked for about 10 minutes whilst simultaneously looking for our elusive bus to Katowice, an unremarkably grey bus zoomed by us and to our incredulity, it bore a neon green COP24 banner. As if it were already second-nature to us, we made a beeline for our bus, though with each passing second it seemed to have shrunk more and more until it was no longer conceivable to the naked eye. No matter, we kept on marching like the proverbial troops we were, trudging towards base camp in the field of battle, where lo’ and behold, there she was like an obedient wife waiting for her husband, that unremarkably grey, beautiful miraculous bus stationed not too far off from where we thought we lost her.

The rest of the day flowed smoothly in such a sequence: I half attended a climate change education game followed by the first YOUNGO induction cum briefing session (I half attended the former as it clashed with the latter). That followed by a breakout session into respective YOUNGO working groups, where I decided to pursue my interest in renewable energy. I was a little apprehensive with regards to the renewable energy WG as there was little indication that it was going to be active prior to COP, but my concerns were banished during the YOUNGO session when it was announced that such a group does exist and that it has a predetermined agenda.

Nonetheless, it was slightly concerning that the person handling the renewable energy working group is also handling the oceans working group, albeit temporarily as he waits for his colleague to take charge as she will only be coming in late for COY. I was also slightly taken aback at the revelation that the working group facilitator had to leave for Bonn the next day as he is to speak at the Global Landscape Forum.

No matter. I take this as an opportunity for the team to take ownership of the working group and produce meaningful outcomes. During COY13, I found myself to be disconnected and detached from the spirit of the conference, feeling lost and overwhelmed (it didn’t help that I came in halfway into it either). But with COY14, I feel that I’m coming in with a bit more confidence and a sense of purpose. Just like how some say that the failure of the Copenhagen Accord was necessary for the advent of the Paris Agreement, the shortcomings I faced at COY13 and COP23 leaves me no choice but to succeed at only my second ever COY and  COP.

Written by Syaqil

Edited by Varun

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 : https://seedsmalaysia2018conference.peatix.com/ )

–> Youth Forum – Climate Change & Real Food Production 
(tickets here : https://seeds2018youthforum.peatix.com/ )  

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.