Side Event in COP21: Asean collaboration in tackling Peatland Fires, Haze and Climate Change

Side Event in COP21: Asean collaboration in tackling Peatland Fires, Haze and Climate Change

Side Event in COP21: Asean collaboration in tackling Peatland Fires, Haze and Climate Change

In this session, Dr. Gary William Theseira, Deputy Undersecretary, Environment Management and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia has shared several key points on how Asean countries come together in combating climate change, peatland fires and haze including:-

At COP21: Asean is not a group to speak at COP but for the past two years. Asean has been working as a group on a joint statement on climate change.

Adaptation strategy by Asean on climate change: Asean Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC) was formed to find common ground to fight climate change and hence, they agreed to share information of sea level rise, extreme events in detailed levels.

Asean on sharing expertises:

ASEAN Haze Monitoring System (AMHS) developed by Singapore cost $100,000 is expected to make use of land concession maps from each country, hot-spot data and high resolution satellite images to pinpoint companies responsible for burning land illegally.

Asean work closely in conducting researches and a number of joint programs related to forest and natural areas. E.g. Global Environment Centre

Thailand (Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization, TGO) make a good position in Carbon Labelling.  

Malaysia share their expertise promoting Green Building Monitoring Tool – monitor the life cycle of architecture / building.

Here are some Q&A on how Asean Countries handle Peatlands and Climate Change:-

Q: Do you have any framework on tackling illegal forest burning and encroachment? As I understand, Asean cannot interfere other Asean countries that causes this problem.

Law and legislation are there but there is lack of implementation/enforcement on peatlands in the region. Currently Asean is coordinating enhance capacity of local government, local sectors, and community to work together. Further works need to be done.

Q. Direct to Dr. Gary: I am struck by your statement that ASEAN countries want to develop without becoming the major emitter. How Asean can contribute in the debate in equity when it comes into the agreement. How Asean can come into play in the negotiation?

Dr. Gary: There is growing role in Renewable Energy. Asean does not have access to traditional Renewable Energy like wind, and solar. We are looking forward to something like biomass and wave energy. This is where technology transfer comes in. This could be the pathway where we can achieve clean energy.

Rehabilitation of peat swamps are achievable in other parts of the world but we need to consider the cultural, and social parts of the world.

With the current technologies – it is evident the cost is very high. For instance, to build a railroad, every one meter you need two concrete slippers. We know the carbon price of steels and concrete slippers. We need to pass via a phase where carbon emissions will be higher. We are trying to incorporate that into agreement. Benefit of that, you can remove x number of cars. Means and numbers are there. We need to come down to speak honestly. We need to come down to the level where we can honestly discuss and work on this together.

Q. I think we are overlooking issue such as peatland subsidence. Peatland oxidize, carbon release to the air and soil is lowered 5 cm per year. In asean region. Bottom of the peats lie below. What would the solution be in addressing such issue?

Peatland subsidence (lowering of the soil): Impact of drainage without fire has been recognized as the main sources of GHG. That has led to adoption of new principles and criteria. Any plantations on peat must do a drainage projection on the next 40 years. If not, it must rehabilitate and use only for wet-production. Only applicable to RSPO for now. This is one of the major challenges in the future.

Q. Long Term Solution for Haze Problem?

Dr. Gary: Long term solution to the haze problem lies in building your capacity of indigenous and local people the dangers of traditional agricultural practices in a changing environment.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

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