Take ambitious climate actions for 2015 agreement, ASEAN member-states urged

Without a fair and ambitious global climate treaty forged in Paris at the end of the year, the world may lose the historic opportunity to take a “U-turn” from fossil fuel dependence to a low-carbon and climate-resilient path, and Southeast Asia may have to face more frequent extreme weather events, an NGO coalition warned.

The ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal (A-FAB) Coalition said that super typhoons, floods and droughts are becoming the region’s new norm, and underscored the need for substantial action to address the causes and impacts of climate change.

The group added that Southeast Asian governments are also in a position to contribute to the global climate effort, especially with the upcoming ASEAN economic integration deadline and international climate negotiations, both in December.

In the past decade, Southeast Asia has been battered by extreme weather events that caused heavy tolls on lives, infrastructure and livelihood. These events—such as 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, which killed 6,300 and displaced hundreds of thousands in the Philippines, and the 2011 Thailand floods that caused USD 1.3 billion in agricultural damages—are known to be exacerbated by rising global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

“The burning of fossil fuels for energy production has been found to be primarily responsible for emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. A harmonized ASEAN policy reform to de-subsidize coal, oil and gas, and to support renewable and other low carbon technologies is therefore necessary, especially in the context of the ASEAN economic integration,” said Zelda Soriano, Legal and Political Advisor of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, a member of A-FAB.

She added that programs and projects to implement the low carbon energy policy can be included in ASEAN countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), or climate action plans that they will take under the new climate treaty.

“We urge ASEAN member-states to ensure fair and ambitious actions in their INDCs to safeguard the future of the region’s population,” said Soriano.

In a policy brief recently published by A-FAB, Dr. Gary Theseira of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Malaysia outlined some possibilities for Southeast Asian governments to develop more impactful INDCs.

These include ramping up renewable energy deployment, promoting energy efficiency, setting targets for reducing deforestation and advocating clean transportation alternatives.

“A meaningful INDC reflects a country’s full capacity to combat climate change. It will also be better if it includes ample information on how a country’s greenhouse gas emissions can be further reduced,” said Dr. Theseira.

He adds that it would be best for ASEAN to urge their member-states, through its declarations, to include ambitious actions in their INDCs with clear indications on how to successfully implement them.

“Enhanced ambition on finance, technology transfer and capacity building by developed countries will enhance mitigation actions in ASEAN,” Dr. Theseira emphasized.

“It is also important to include adaptation in the INDCs. One of the biggest challenges confronting many ASEAN Member States is helping poor communities across the region adapt to climate change,” said Riza Bernabe, Policy and Research Coordinator for the East Asia GROW campaign of Oxfam, another member of A-FAB.

“Developed countries should make it part of their climate action plans to provide climate finance to support climate adaptation in developing countries. We believe that, in the spirit of climate justice, countries primarily responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, should also be responsible for addressing the adaptation needs of climate change victims,” she added.

The ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal (A-FAB) is a coalition composed of Oxfam, Greenpeace, and the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration that calls for a more active and transparent participation of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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