ASEAN’S role in re­al­iz­ing Paris Agree­ment

Iran Daily - - Cultural Heritage & Environment -

Mem­ber states of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) bear min­i­mal his­tor­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity for global car­bon emis­sions but are equally suf­fer­ing the im­pact of cli­mate change as its ef­fects on the world be­come more ap­par­ent.

True ‘cli­mate jus­tice’ was needed and in De­cem­ber 2015, with the adop­tion of the Paris Agree­ment by 195 coun­tries, jus­tice was served, th­easean­post.com re­ported.

Lead­ers of the world pledged to coun­ter­act the threat of cli­mate change by en­sur­ing the world­wide tem­per­a­ture rise was lim­ited to be­low 2°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els — per­haps even by 1.5°C in the best-case sce­nario. It was a mon­u­men­tal step taken in the right di­rec­tion to­wards for­mu­lat­ing a global re­sponse to com­bat the cli­mate change pan­demic with a pledge also by in­dus­tri­al­ized states to help in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing and de­vel­op­ing na­tions achieve their cli­mate goals.

As ASEAN is a still-de­vel­op­ing re­gion, emis­sion lev­els have been rel­a­tively high in re­cent history and in that sense, all eyes will turn to the rapidly in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing na­tions of the ASEAN-5 (In­done­sia, Malaysia, the Philip­pines, Thailand and Viet­nam). The Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB) pro­jected 2018 eco­nomic growth rates of these five economies to av­er­age at 5.5 per­cent, slightly higher than the 5.1 per­cent re­gional av­er­age.

The main sec­tors that drive eco­nomic growth in these economies like man­u­fac­tur­ing, ma­chin­ery and chem­i­cal and al­lied in­dus­tries are en­ergy in­ten­sive sec­tors which re­sult in heavy green­house gas (GHG) emis­sions. To com­bat this, each ASEAN-5 coun­try has its own na­tional com­mit­ments to re­duce their re­spec­tive car­bon foot­prints. Be­sides that, ASEAN mem­ber states in gen­eral are work­ing to­wards re­al­iz­ing a com­mon re­gional goal of in­ten­si­fy­ing re­new­able en­ergy in the re­gion’s pri­mary en­ergy mix to 23 per­cent by 2025.

In­done­sia, the largest econ­omy of the 10-mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion pledged to re­duce emis­sions by 29 per­cent by 2030 com­pared to busi­ness as usual lev­els and that num­ber could rise to 41 per­cent if it gains suf­fi­cient in­ter­na­tional sup­port.

Malaysia, in­tends to re­duce its green­house gas (GHG) emis­sions in­ten­sity of gross domestic prod­uct (GDP) by 45 per­cent by 2030 rel­a­tive to the emis­sions in­ten­sity of GDP in 2005. This con­sists of 35 per­cent on an un­con­di­tional ba­sis and a fur­ther 10 per­cent de­pen­dent upon re­ceipt of cli­mate fi­nance, tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and ca­pac­ity build­ing from de­vel­oped coun­tries.

Thailand aims for an un­con­di­tional 20 per­cent re­duc­tion in emis­sions by 2030, com­pared to busi­ness as usual lev­els which could in­crease to 25 per­cent, con­di­tional upon the pro­vi­sion of in­ter­na­tional sup­port.

Viet­nam fore­sees an eight per­cent re­duc­tion in emis­sions com­pared to a busi­ness as usual sce­nario, within the same time pe­riod. This could in­crease to 25 per­cent but that is con­tin­gent upon in­ter­na­tional sup­port. On top of that, Hanoi also pledged to in­crease for­est cover to 45 per­cent.

The Philip­pines aims for a re­duc­tion in emis­sions of ap­prox­i­mately 70 per­cent by 2030, rel­a­tive to a busi­ness as usual sce­nario. How­ever, this is also on con­di­tion of in­ter­na­tional sup­port

Of the 10 economies in ASEAN, the CLM (Cam­bo­dia, Lao PDR and Myan­mar) economies are by far the fastest grow­ing mar­kets in the re­gion with av­er­age eco­nomic growth rates reach­ing 7.4 per­cent ac­cord­ing to ADB pro­jec­tions. As these coun­tries aim to im­prove the in­come and liv­ing con­di­tions of their cit­i­zenry, they be­come lu­cra­tive in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tions for many for­eign in­vestors. The gov­ern­ments there have ini­ti­ated a plethora of projects in the en­ergy sec­tor which aim to im­prove ur­ban and ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

How­ever, in achiev­ing their eco­nomic goals, weak en­vi­ron­men­tal regulations and pol­icy frame­work open ma­li­cious doors to ex­ploita­tion. Of the three, only Lao PDR does not fall in the United Na­tions (UN) de­fined cat­e­gory of ‘Least De­vel­oped Coun­try’ (LDC), hav­ing grad­u­ated from that cat­e­gory ear­lier this year. Hence, these states need as much help as they can get to re­al­ize their own pledges to­wards global cli­mate change am­bi­tions.

Thus far, Lao PDR, has com­mit­ted to a num­ber of poli­cies and ac­tions de­signed to re­duce emis­sions. Cam­bo­dia aims to re­duce emis­sions by 27 per­cent be­low a busi­ness as usual sce­nario by 2030, with an ad­di­tional tar­get to in­crease for­est cover to 60 per­cent of na­tional land area by 2030. Myan­mar, while not ex­plicit in its aims to re­duce car­bon emis­sions, still pledged steps to re­duce its car­bon foot­print by in­creas­ing hy­dropower ca­pac­ity to 9.4 gi­gawatts (GW) by 2030, achiev­ing ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion based on at least 30 per­cent re­new­able sources and in­creas­ing forested area to 30 per­cent by 2030.

Brunei and Sin­ga­pore, be­ing the most in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries in the ASEAN re­gion are faced with dif­fer­ent chal­lenges to­wards re­al­iz­ing their con­tri­bu­tions to the Paris Agree­ment.

Sin­ga­pore, has been more re­spon­sive to the global fight against cli­mate change. It has been in the fore­front of tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings and smart grids pow­ered by re­new­able sources. The is­land repub­lic aims to re­duce emis­sion in­ten­sity by 36 per­cent by 2030 com­pared to 2005 lev­els with emis­sions peak­ing around 2030. On top of that, it in­tends to achieve this with­out in­ter­na­tional mar­ket mech­a­nisms, though it will con­tinue to study their po­ten­tial.

Brunei’s sit­u­a­tion dif­fers from its in­dus­tri­al­ized ASEAN coun­ter­part. The Bruneian econ­omy is highly de­pen­dent on the oil and gas sec­tor which is a heavy in­dus­try re­spon­si­ble for in­creased lev­els of GHG emis­sions. The govern­ment there is ac­tively look­ing at elim­i­nat­ing rou­tine flar­ing of as­so­ci­ated gas which is a main con­trib­u­tor to car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

Brunei aims to re­duce to­tal en­ergy con­sump­tion by 63 per­cent by 2035 com­pared to busi­ness as usual lev­els. It is also bent on shy­ing away from pe­tro­leum-re­liance and look­ing to in­crease the share of power gen­er­ated by re­new­ables to 10 per­cent by 2035. Be­sides that, it also pledges to re­duce car­bon diox­ide (CO2) emis­sions from morn­ing peak hour ve­hi­cle use by 40 per­cent in the same time pe­riod.

ROMEO GACAD / AFP

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