Public sector’s commitment to energy transition crucial to achieving Malaysia’s net zero goals

Developing communities that use less fossil fuels, and addressing climate change are two major obstacles to building sustainable communities worldwide.

Malaysia regularly suffers from unfavourable weather and high heat, whether it’s a choke-inducing smog caused by minor forest fires, scarce water supply, droughts, or devastating floods.

In the worst-case scenario of climate change, Malaysia’s average temperatures are predicted to climb by 3.11 degrees Celsius by the 2090s, as indicated by the Climate Risk Country Profile: Malaysia (2021) by the World Bank Group, and the Asian Development Bank.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has explicitly stated that human activity is the primary contributor to global warming. Our atmosphere is being filled with greenhouse gases, namely CO2 and methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), and tropospheric ozone, as a result of our continually expanding industrial development and transportation requirements.

The Malaysian government is steadfastly devoted to dealing with the problem, and implementing regulations relating to the environment in order to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

The shift of a nation’s energy system towards reducing and avoiding possible environmental harm and the effects of climate change is represented by the sustainability of energy systems.

Because the energy sector has a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainability, Malaysia’s current priorities are to improve energy efficiency and lessen its dependency on conventional energy sources.

In order to facilitate the energy transition, Putrajaya allocated an RM2 billion ‘seed fund’ when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim unveiled the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR).

Anwar asserted that the national energy transmission facility will provide a smooth flow of funding for energy transformation initiatives that are “marginally bankable and yielding below-market returns”.

Besides this, Putrajaya updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 as part of Malaysia’s commitment to meeting global climate objectives.

In fact, Malaysia will save between US$9 billion and US$13 billion annually by switching to renewable energy by 2050 as a result of averting expenses associated with energy, the environment, and human health.

Increasing the use of accessible local renewable energy sources will enable Malaysia to achieve its net-zero objective. Nevertheless, Malaysia has to increase the flexibility of its system to enable a larger integration of renewables in a practical way.

Hence, long-term strategies must place emphasis on ways to solve the existing grid integration difficulties and build flexibility into the grids. Making the investment climate more favourable for renewables is also an immediate measure that Malaysia must undertake.

As such, Malaysia can achieve its reaffirmed goal of becoming net zero by 2050 through strategies and policies that prioritise renewable energy investments and are uniform across all levels of government while ensuring its citizens have a more wealthy, long-lasting future, according to Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency

In addition, Malaysia should put more emphasis on the value of international partnerships in accelerating the energy transition plan, since combined efforts might result in positive change for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

For example, utility businesses like Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Sarawak Energy are making headway in the cross-border market by utilising the Asean Power Grid to boost economic integration with surrounding nations and broaden chances for energy security.

Malaysia can expedite the adoption of renewable technology, the creation of cutting-edge energy storage systems, and the improvement of energy efficiency practices by combining its individual and collective talents.

In short, the public sector must show a strong commitment to advancing Malaysia’s energy transition, despite the many challenges ahead and the considerable implementation that will be needed. This is to ensure that cities and other human habitations are inclusive, secure, robust, and sustainable, in order to accomplish Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 11 –Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Datin Seri Prof Dr Suhaiza Hanim Mohamad Zailani is the director of the Ungku Aziz Centre for Development Studies, Universiti Malaya.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.