Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bear minimal historical responsibility for global carbon emissions but are equally suffering the impact of climate change as its effects on the world become more apparent. True ‘climate justice’ was needed and in December 2015, with the adoption of the Paris Agreement by 195 countries, justice was served.
Leaders of the world pledged to counteract the threat of climate change by ensuring the worldwide temperature rise was limited to below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – perhaps even by 1.5 degrees Celsius in the best-case scenario. It was a monumental step taken in the right direction towards formulating a global response to combat the climate change pandemic with a pledge also by industrialised states to help industrialising and developing nations achieve their climate goals.
ASEAN-5 goals towards realising the Paris climate accord
As ASEAN is a still-developing region, emission levels have been relatively high in recent history and in that sense, all eyes will turn to the rapidly industrialising nations of the ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) projected 2018 economic growth rates of these five economies to average at 5.5 percent, slightly higher than the 5.1 percent regional average.
The main sectors that drive economic growth in these economies like manufacturing, machinery and chemical and allied industries are energy intensive sectors which result in heavy greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To combat this, each ASEAN-5 country has its own national commitments to reduce their respective carbon footprints. Besides that, ASEAN member states in general are working towards realising a common regional goal of intensifying renewable energy in the region’s primary energy mix to 23 percent by 2025.
Indonesia, the largest economy of the 10-member association pledged to reduce emissions by 29 percent by 2030 compared to business as usual levels and that number could rise to 41 percent if it gains sufficient international support.
Malaysia, intends to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) by 45 percent by 2030 relative to the emissions intensity of GDP in 2005. This consists of 35 percent on an unconditional basis and a further 10 percent dependent upon receipt of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries.
Thailand aims for an unconditional 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to business as usual levels which could increase to 25 percent, conditional upon the provision of international support.
Vietnam foresees an eight percent reduction in emissions compared to a business as usual scenario, within the same time period. This could increase to 25 percent but that is contingent upon international support. On top of that, Hanoi also pledged to increase forest cover to 45 percent.
The Philippines aims for a reduction in emissions of approximately 70 percent by 2030, relative to a business as usual scenario. However, this is also on condition of international support.