Msia offers conditional 40% cut in carbon emission

My colleague Mimi Syed Yusof reports from Denmark on Malaysia's standpoint on possible heavier punishment for factories, refineries and mills that pollute the air.

Earlier, developing countries managed to scuttle Denmark's initiative that sought "to kill" the Kyoto Protocol. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen took over COP15's podium as its new president, after Connie Hedegaard abruptly resigned on December 16. Rasmussen quickly announced that there will be two texts to be presented to the high level meetings in order to move the negotiations forward.

His announcement aroused suspicion among developing nations that the presidency was trying to present new drafts instead of using the draft texts which the groups had been working on almost around the clock.

The "Danish text" had sought to set unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals - a move which will effectively kill the Kyoto Protocol.

Rich nations, like Denmark had wanted a fresh treaty, arguing the world has changed and the major emerging economies such and China and India must commit to curbing their huge and fast growing national emissions. But the developing nations argue that rich nations grew wealthy by polluting the atmosphere and must take primary responsibility for it, which can only be guaranteed by Kyoto.

It is a relief that developing countries, like Malaysia, resisted efforts to replace or downgrade the 1997 protocol, which places legally binding commitments on rich – but not poor – nations. Negotiators now move forward on a 2-track basis, one part of which maintains the integrity of Kyoto.

U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern, however, reiterated an extension of Kyoto would have to be without Washington. "We're not going to become part of the Kyoto Protocol." Former President George W. Bush said the Kyoto Protocol was a straitjacket that unfairly omitted greenhouse gas curbs for developing nations led by China. President Barack Obama has no plans to rejoin even though he wants to step up U.S. actions to fight global warming.

COPENHAGEN: Malaysia will voluntarily slash by up to 40 per cent her carbon emission by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who made this commitment today, said this was part of Malaysia’s contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.

The offer to reduce pollution levels, however, was conditional upon technology transfer and adequate financing from developed countries.

Addressing the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 here, Najib said Malaysia was committed to doing its best to combat climate change.

“We realise this is nothing short of a herculean endeavour, but Malaysia is committed,” he said, adding conference presented fair principles of equity and historical responsibility due to the need of parties in the Annex 1 category (industrialised countries and economies in transition) to repay their climate debt.

Najib also said that Malaysia was committed to ensure at least half of its land area remained as forests, as pledged at the United Nations Rio de Janerio Earth Summit in 1992. “Currently our national natural forests and agriculture crop plantations cover 75 per cent of the country’s land area,” he said during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15).

Stressing the importance of the Kyoto Protocol forged in 1997, Najib said developed countries which were not party to it should take steps in reducing carbon emissions as agreed to in the Bali Action Plan 2007. “Malaysia calls on the developed countries to collectively commit in Copenhagen to an aggregate reduction of 49 per cent by 2017 compared to the 1990 levels,” he said.

“The key to our future cooperation is to recognise, adopt and work out the realisation of the principle of fair shares to the atmospheric space and resource. “At the same time, we must have ambitious environmental aspirations,” he said, adding that these two factors would ensure COP15’s success.

Najib later described the proposed US$10 billion (RM3.4 billion) fast track funding for developing nations to control pollution as a “mere pittance and woefully inadequate”. Developing countries required long-term financing of some US$800 billion a year for adaptation and mitigation of climate change.The funding, he added, was linked to the target of limiting global warming to a 2°C temperature rise.

However, the figure could hit US$1.5 trillion annually based on scientific endeavours to cap the rise at 1.5°C. “If we think about it, this is not too high when compared with the trillions of dollars recently used in bailing out banks and companies.” Najib urged developed countries to commit US$200 billion annually by 2012 until US$800 billion annually, thereafter.

Najib also suggested that the developed nations should commit to cut their emissions by well over 100 per cent compared to the proposed 80 per cent cut. Even if developed countries cut their emissions by 80 per cent, it would imply a 20 per cent cut by developing countries in absolute terms and a cut of 60 per cent per capita because of population growth. “This was an almost impossible task given the imperative of high economic growth. Therefore, developed countries have to commit to cut their emissions by well over 100 per cent.

Developed countries must invest more heavily in carbon sinking. In other words, they need to plant more trees to absorb more carbon dioxide than the amount emitted by their factories into the air, "so that developing countries will still have some carbon space,” he said.

He also spoke on the looming threat of trade barriers under the guise of addressing climate change. For COP15 to work, there must be a clear statement that developed countries would not take trade-related measures such as carbon tariffs and border adjustment measures against the products, services and investments of developing countries.

“Otherwise, we would have an unacceptable situation where developed countries give US$1 with one hand and take away US$10 with the other.”

One Response to Msia offers conditional 40% cut in carbon emission

  1. Rather than being upset by the unwillingness of developed countries, which caused the 80% of the past pollution, to bear responsibilities of their actions, the developing countries can hit back where it hurts: at developed countries' wallet. How? Simply add tax surcharge on any imports from such countries. Call it climate compensation tax.

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