MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, December 31, 2023

Paris Agreement: Who, what, where, when, and why?


 Every year, the Climate Change Conference (COP) will be held in different cities for representatives from member countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to meet and discuss progress made on climate change.

This time around, COP28 has been convened from Nov 30 until Dec 12, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I came across certain quarters who claimed that COP is a waste of money, where world leaders and the like are going overseas just for fun with nothing fruitful coming out of it.

Some also questioned the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from flying those people there to attend COP. Time after time, member countries made pledges without fulfilling any.

What makes these people think that way? Well, maybe because less than 10 percent of people attending COP are negotiators, while the remaining 90 percent are there to network with others whom they share an interest with.

But climate change is not managed in silos. Some think going vegetarian can dramatically cut emissions, others think of taking public transport, bringing their own reusable utensils and containers to pack food, and cutting down on single-use plastics should be more than enough.

If this is what you think, you fail to connect the dots to see the bigger picture.

All part of a bigger ecosystem

For one thing, climate change negotiations are never straightforward. In a live, face-to-face setting, negotiators representing developed and developing countries openly communicate their interests and challenges in addressing climate change issues.

The pressure is on the negotiators to commit and make reasonable pledges in the best interests of the countries.

Simply put, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It entered into force on Nov 4, 2016, and is now adopted by 195 member countries including Malaysia, as of February 2023.

Under the Paris Agreement, each party is obliged to submit self-defined mitigation goals, or the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), and update it every five years.

In particular, Decision 4/CMA.1 of the NDC says that developed countries should undertake economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets, while developing countries are encouraged to move, over time, towards economy-wide targets.

The caveat here is whether developed country parties can commit to providing US$100 billion in climate financing to developing countries for them to do so. The first NDC is to be submitted by 2025, as outlined in Article 4, Para 9 of the Paris Agreement.

To track progress in implementing NDC, Decision 18/CMA.1 says that the information needed includes a description of the NDC, information necessary to track progress made, mitigation policies and measures, as well as projections of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals.

Team effort

Like any other country parties, Malaysia may pledge to cut its GHG emissions by a certain percentage within a given time period at the COP. But Malaysia cannot do it alone, it has to be a collective effort by everyone ranging from policymakers, finance, business, NGOs, and so forth.

This is when the non-negotiators can join hands and move in the direction of achieving a common goal. For instance, Energy and Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) were identified as the two largest contributors to national GHG emissions, as specified in our Fourth Biennial Update (BUR4) report.

Our focus should therefore be cutting emissions across energy- and resource-intensive industries. Private companies can incorporate sustainable practices into their operations, such as the adoption of energy-efficient appliances which also help save costs.

Additionally, NGOs can focus on building public awareness about climate change and environmental protection. While financial institutions can mobilise green investments by lending capital to businesses to adopt more low-carbon technologies.

This will all help align perception with reality, as many companies tend to set sustainability targets before they define how they will meet those targets.

For everyone to understand ways how to decarbonise, they will need to engage with relevant industry players via a platform like the COP. They will get a better understanding of the innovation, technologies and funding available for transition to green.

As the saying goes, alone we can do so little, together we can do so much! - Mkini

Chong Yen Mee is a technical analyst at the Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Ministry who enjoys writing doomsday stories that make people act.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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