What is COP and why is it important to Malaysia?

11 Oct 2023 08:50am
Illustrative image (123rf)
Illustrative image (123rf)

What is COP?

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will convene for the 28th time this year in Dubai from Nov 30 to Dec12.

This is where 197 signatories of the framework and their representatives including heads of state and world leaders will meet and make high-level decisions surrounding climate issues.

The conference will bring together thousands of non-governmental organisations, youth delegates, companies as well as stakeholders that will pave forward climate action plans for their respective nations and regions.

Why is it important?

It was in the early 1990s when the Rio Summit which saw the launch of the UNFCCC and COP.

It has since been a global annual conference to determine goals and responsibilities of signatories in the climate sphere while identifying and assessing climate measures to overcome the growing climate issues.

Malaysia ratified the UNFCCC on July 13, 1994 followed by the nation’s move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Sept 4, 2002.

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The Kyoto Protocol was initially adopted in 1997 but as a developing country, Malaysia was not legally required to meet greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets.

At COP21 in 2015, under the Paris Agreement, Malaysia adhered to the goals of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees celsius above pre industrial levels and limit increase by 1.5 degrees celsius.

Malaysia, with a population of 33.5 million, being geographically positioned in Southeast Asia is no stranger to climate events including floods, droughts and sea level rising which makes Malaysia one of the key nations that will pursue climate action.

Flooding in particular has remained one of Malaysia’s largest problems where the 2021 floods claimed 50 lives, displaced 400,000 people and experienced financial losses of estimated RM6.1 billion ringgit.

Malaysia’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement showed its determination to reduce an economy-wide carbon intensity against its gross domestic product (GDP) of 45 per cent by 2030, an increase by 10 per cent of its initial NDC goals from 2005.

Among some of its NDC’s are:

A 45 per cent unconditional reduction in carbon intensity which is broken down to a 35 per cent unconditional and 10 per cent conditional on support from developed countries.

Greenhouse gas coverage (GHG) was expanded to include seven GHG including Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrofluorocarbon, Perfluorocarbons, Sulphur Hexafluoride and Nitrogen trifluoride.

As of 2016, Malaysia has achieved a 29.4 per cent reduction in emissions intensity per unit of GDP as compared to 2005.

Malaysia has since implemented a Renewable Energy Act in 2011 which slashed 432,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

What to look forward to in the 2023 COP28?

Malaysia has undertaken various initiatives to help the nation reach its net zero goals in the GHG emissions by 2050.

One example is the development of the NDC Roadmap, a Long-Term Emission Development Strategies (LT-DES), introducing strategies and actions for GHG especially in key economic sectors.

The Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry is also drafting the Climate Change Act bill that is expected to be tabled in the next two to three years.

The Energy Efficient and Conservation Act was passed in Parliament in October which will require the largest consumers to implement power-saving measures while slashing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The enforcement of the Act is projected to save 2,017 million gigajoules of energy, amounting to RM97.1 billion by 2050.

Experts from the Malaysian consultative panel of climate change said Malaysia must bring forward a strong stance on three elements including a global adaptation goal, a push for loss and damage fund as well as steering negotiations to demand for the climate finance target to be realised.