Holistic approach to drive green economy agenda

James Kon

“As we move towards a low carbon resilient world, being the cleanest fossil fuel, natural gas is set to take over coal as the second-largest energy source,” said Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Brunei LNG Hajah Farida binti Dato Seri Paduka Haji Talib.

“In the next 20 years, Asia is projected to absorb over 70 per cent of the world’s LNG demand and with rising pressure to tackle climate change, LNG will become a key player. Across the oil and gas industry, we are looking at avoiding, reducing, compensating their emissions as a result of our operations and protecting the environment,” she said.

The global population is projected to grow by a third in the next 30 years, driving the same proportion of energy demand. However, in line with the commitment to the Paris Agreement, parties need to halve the CO2 emissions by 2030, she said during the ‘Pathway to Green Recovery for ASEAN Dialogues’ hosted by the CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy (CARI), in collaboration with its supporting partners ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia.

Chairman of CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid proposed that ASEAN governments should step up regulations for businesses to tackle and to drive towards green investment and regional carbon pricing.

“One possible way is to set up an ASEAN Alliance of Legislators to push this agenda forward. There is also a need to highlight the benefits of the Environmental, Social & Governance and Sustainable Development Goals aspects in businesses. The public and the private sector could join in running media campaigns to raise awareness towards the green agenda.

“Every country in ASEAN has made some kind of programme with varying degrees of preparedness. The Singapore Green Plan stands out to be the most comprehensive and ASEAN member states could use it as a baseline model for the region. ASEAN should also look at potential border issues that may arise due to cross-border carbon tax to ensure that there is no race-to-the-bottom.”

Executive Director of CARI Jukhee Hong stressed the need for SMEs to be green-ready and for the ASEAN Community to pursue cross-pillar and cross-sectoral collaboration to advance climate aligned agenda.

“The survival of businesses is the top priority for SMEs in the current raging pandemic. Notwithstanding that, green compliance will eventually impact SMEs in the supply chains of larger businesses and financial institutions will continue to transition to be more climate aligned and therefore preparing the SMEs to be green-ready is critically important to future proof their businesses given the opportunity of economic reset once the pandemic has stabilised.”

She also pointed out that ASEAN member states are parties to the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Considerable work has been carried out by ASEAN ministerial meeting on the environment and the senior officials in setting climate mitigation goals at the local, national, regional levels under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community pillar. But given the critical role that the economic sector plays in carbon emissions and climate mitigation with key fiscal policy stakeholders coming from the economic sector, cross-pillar and sectoral collaboration should be pursued, Jukhee said.