On the 12th of April, the Ministry of Water and Environment Malaysia, in partnership with Climate Governance Malaysia, kicked off a series of discussions on "Low Emissions Pathway for Malaysia".
Click here for the live recording of the 'Roundtable Discussion on Low Emissions Pathway for Malaysia'.
Some of the slides presented by the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Environment Malaysia, YBhg. Datuk Seri Ir. Dr. Zaini Ujang, are available here.
"We want to mainstream and strengthen climate governance, with a planetary health approach, we want to target what really matters. It could be city-based, it could also be state-based."
Bank Negara's Puan Madelena Mohamed shared the following slide:
Points shared by Dr. Henry Chan, Conservation Director of WWF
In conjunction with the “Roundtable Discussion on Low Emissions Pathway for Malaysia” organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment Malaysia, I will talk about the roles of WWF-Malaysia on advancing the climate change agenda.
I would like to begin by stating we need to simplify the climate change narrative. We need to make it easy to understand and to be relevant to our target audiences, so that the whole of Malaysia is inspired to come together to combat global warming.
To start on the path of low emissions, firstly, we must protect our forests. Forests act as a carbon sink to absorb carbon dioxide, as well as produce oxygen. Forests also play crucial roles for our survival. They regulate local climatic conditions, rainfall as well as water cycles. They are a storehouse of genetic materials for future food production on a hotter planet. And as our planet warms, forests provide resilience in absorbing the impacts of climate change. As such, Malaysia’s commitment for half of our land to be covered in forests, as enshrined by the new National Forestry Policy, ensures that we have a large carbon sink. The same carbon sink is also home to a diversity of wildlife. This makes Malaysia a mega diverse country, as well as a biodiversity hotspot.
Second, the subject of Sustainable Forest Management must be at the forefront of finding the solution against global warming. It is paramount that we need to correct the misperception that logging is devastating to the environment and causing deforestation. This correction of misunderstanding can be achieved by the logging industry itself by adhering to the standards of certification, and for enforcement authorities to ensure strict compliance. In addition, wherever our forest is degraded, we need to plant trees. The present national campaign to plant 100 million trees is a crucial first step. The government setting up the Malaysia Forest Fund to implement the REDD+ Financing Framework that values both the carbon and conservation services of forests is another step in the right direction. At the end, our forest would act as an efficient carbon sink.
Thirdly, we need to work with the palm oil industry to ensure that palm oil plantations do not cause deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat. Using the Living Landscape Approach, WWF-Malaysia works with the palm oil industry to ensure that their supplies do not come from deforested areas. The end-effect that we seek to achieve is, products coming from deforestation areas, have no commercial value, therefore removing one driver of deforestation.
At the heart of all this is the well-being of ourselves as we rely on the immense services provided by our forests: clean air, water, food, medicines, and which at the same time generate sustainable economic activities.
We then talk about lowering carbon emissions across different social and economic sectors. For this, we engage with financial institutions to embrace environmental social governance (ESG) in combatting global warming. We collaborate with banks into adopting various financial instruments to prevent the rise of global temperature to above 1.5 degree Celsius, and we offer our support to the Central Bank’s Joint Committee for Climate Change as resource experts. Our work is premised on the fact that there is 46 trillion dollars floating through the global financial system. We believe that a mere 1% of this 46 trillion, amounting to 460 billion, redirected towards sustainability, will shift key economic systems towards reducing global warming.
And so we help investors and loan officers to ask fundamental questions and look for critical information. Will my investment eventually cause deforestation, and what tools should I use to gather that information?
For corporates, the main question is, how can my core business transition into a carbon neutral business?
Likewise, as a country, we need to ask the same questions. What pathways towards low emissions have been undertaken by other countries, and how do they affect us? And in what ways can we reduce our emissions?
With this, I now move to a study WWF-Malaysia is conducting with Boston Consultation Group (BCG) on identifying pathways towards net-zero emissions, roughly defined as preventing the rise of global temperature above 1.5 degree Celsius by 2050.
First let us look at this from the global perspective. Just a short 3 years ago, not a single major economy in the world has committed to a net-zero future. To date, countries emitting 70% of the world’s emissions have committed to that ambition, and we are not.
We ask ourselves: Should we equally be ambitious? Do we stand to gain by taking early action?
By comparing our situation with those of others, Malaysia actually has competitive advantages. At the beginning, I mentioned we have an extensive forest cover. In fact, Malaysia has already legislated 48% of her land mass as protected areas and production forest. In addition, we do have skilled workforce and we know of progressive companies that can support a climate transition path. It is indeed an opportune time for us to explore the potential and possibilities for Malaysia to consider committing to a net-zero future. Conversely, if we do not join the global effort to stabilise temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, every country will be impacted. Even the health of our own forests may decline with the climate change impacting our natural ecosystems. This is not an assumption for Northern Australia witnessed the dieback of mangrove forests several years back (in the Gulf of Carpentaria 2015/16 summer).
Arising from this urgency, and based on similar studies undertaken by BCG in other countries such as Germany, South Africa and China, BCG now collaborates with WWF-Malaysia to embark on a joint study to explore potential pathways for Malaysia to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
This study is being conducted independently and is intended to serve as a national reference point for all stakeholder groups in the country. The stakeholders group would jointly develop the thinking on how to collectively respond to the implication of climate change and consider their own specific pathways to net-zero. This reference will be supported by sound analysis based on facts and figures to support public sector policy as well as private sector action.
The study will explore potential pathways on reducing greenhouse gas towards net-zero emissions, we intend to also assess the social and economic impacts on Malaysia through the transition according to different time scales.
In the coming months, our joint WWF-BCG team will reach out to a variety of stakeholders in the public, private, and non-profit spheres for engagement, information sharing, and support. We look forward to collaborating with many of you on this important effort.