Malaysia committed to cutting CO2 emissions intensity of its GDP by 40 per cent by 2020

Malaysia says it will submit a plan with specific targets to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before the Paris conference next week.
Melissa Goh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, Channel NewsAsia 28 Nov 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Minister of National Resources and Environment Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the country is committed to cutting the carbon emissions intensity of its GDP by 40 per cent by the year 2020.

The minister also said Kuala Lumpur will submit its game plan with specific targets to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change before the Paris conference next week.

More than 160 countries have already submitted their plans on the actions they will take for a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris, where an ambitious plan to tackle climate change will be negotiated.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Minister Wan Junaidi said he will be presenting Malaysia's game plan on climate change in early December. A key point in the plan is the pledge to conserve the Malaysian rainforest, which is one of the oldest in the world.

"We are going to conserve millions of hectares of land across Borneo from the Indonesian border to Sarawak and from across Brunei to Sabah,” said Mr Wan Junaidi.

Measures will be put in place for this to happen. Under a new bio-diversity policy, existing laws will be tightened to curb illegal logging. Tougher penalties too, have been proposed.

Carbon dioxide emissions is another area to be tackled. Car ownership in Malaysia is the third highest in the world at a whopping 93 per cent with 54 per cent of households having more than one car.

To cut greenhouse gas emissions, Malaysia is phasing out Ron 95, which is a lower grade petrol but widely used by motorists here because it is much cheaper than the higher-grade Ron 97. Ron 97 also carries a Euro 4 standard, which means reduced emissions.

"Ron 97 is already Euro 4, but Ron 95 is still Euro 2, and so we are determined that by 2018, that we will introduce Euro 4 for both,” said Mr Wan Junaidi.

But critics say the government needs to do more to improve the energy mix in its power supply. Malaysia still relies heavily on coal, with renewable sources accounting for less than 3 per cent.

"The devil is in the details, so for example one of main areas of generation of greenhouse gases in any country would be how we generate power,” said Ong Kian Meng, Member of Parliament for Seri Kembangan. “By 2023, 65 per cent of our power in Peninsular Malaysia will be from coal-fired plants, up from 48 per cent in 2015 - so we’ll have more coal-fired generation, plants which will emit more CO2 into the atmosphere."

This reliance on coal, he added, runs contrary to US President Barack Obama message on climate change, while he was in Malaysia recently for the ASEAN and related summits.

"The key is to make sure everybody is doing their part, what we all agreed is a finance mechanism to help these countries leapfrog old technology so instead of building old dirty power plants, here is some smart clean energy plants, and we'll help you through technology transfer and financing so that you can achieve your development goals but not add to the carbon problem,” said President Obama.

The issue is how development and environmentally friendly practices can co-exist. Next year, Malaysia is chasing economic growth of between 4 and 5 per cent. It is confident however that growth will not hinder its ability to meet emission reduction targets.

Kuala Lumpur is also set to launch its mass rapid transit system in 2016 and it hopes that this, and the expansion of the city's light rail system, will encourage Malaysians to use public transport and leave their vehicles at home.

- CNA/rw

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