From Carbon to Clean: Charting a Sustainable Course for Malaysia’s Energy-Intensive Industries

From Carbon to Clean: Charting a Sustainable Course for Malaysia’s Energy-Intensive Industries

By: Ts. Dr. Tan Ee Sann

Malaysia has pledged to the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) to limit global warming by keeping the rise in temperature to below 2°C. The country aims to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45% in 2030 and become a country that has Net Zero Emissions (NZE) by 2050 and. However, as a developing country with rapid growth in the manufacturing sector, Malaysia’s industries is one of the most carbon-intensive in Southeast Asia.

The greatest potential for reducing industrial-based GHG emissions is anticipated in steel, cement, petrochemicals, electronics, and aluminium production. These industrial processes draw increasing attention as government’s climate change commitments are pushing the industries to cut back emissions. In Malaysia’s Biennial Update Report (BUR4) published in 2022, energy sector recorded 78% of the total emissions, the largest category contributor, following by Industrial Processes at 10%. Currently, Malaysia is working to develop roadmap and establish policies to reach its NZE target, as it moves to access affordable and clean energy (SDG7) and reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SDG13). Therein lies the importance of the research work by researchers in UNITEN to study sustainable decarbonisation approaches for energy-intensive industries in Malaysia. This research is funded by the Institut Masa Depan Negara (MASA), under the MASA Policy Development Program (MPDP 2.0).

The UNITEN research team, headed by Ts. Dr. Tan Ee Sann, along with project members, Ts. Dr. Pua Fei Ling @ Grace Pua, and Ts. Dr. Renuga Verayiah have been involved in greenhouse gas inventories for the past eight years. The team closely work with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) in the estimation of greenhouse gas for Malaysia’s reporting in the National Communication (NC) and Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The project involves various key stakeholders, including industry representatives, government agencies, and research institutes through focus-group engagements.

The project team will help identify key challenges and sustainable approaches and opportunities for decarbonisation, focusing on technological solutions and methods of greenhouse gas reduction in various industrial sectors. As the country aims to reduce the intensity of GHG emissions by 45% in 2030 and become a net zero emission in 2050, there is a large gap in estimation of GHG reduction by sectors, in addition to the lack of identification of impact and mitigation measures taken to achieve these targets. The project team aims to develop sustainable approaches towards decarbonisation. The findings of this study consist of a policy brief for the outlook and recommendations for all stakeholders to prepare decarbonisation efforts within their facilities in view of country’s NZE targets, so that industry can best adopt sustainable approaches in GHG emissions reduction.

It is envisaged that this policy paper could help narrow the gap between university and industry by providing a forum for academics to share their research findings with industry partners. This could lead to new collaborations and partnerships, which could help to accelerate the development of new technologies and solutions to address climate change. Meanwhile, industries stand to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their GHG emissions, which leads to cost savings and increased competitiveness.

There will be a growing sense of awareness by industries to develop new products that meet the growing demand for sustainable solutions. In addition, policymakers can understand the outlook on the implications of rapid growth in economy and climate change, pushing them to make informed decisions about how to manage sustainable economic growth. The findings can serve as preliminary input for the Climate Change Act, which is under planning by NRECC. This helps ensure that the Act is effective in reducing GHG emissions.

Malaysia has the opportunity to lead the charge in sustainable decarbonisation and make a lasting impact on the global fight against climate change. By investing in research, fostering innovation, and implementing bold policies, we can accelerate the transition to a greener future.

Let us collaborate to develop and deploy cutting-edge technologies, support clean energy initiatives, and promote sustainable practices across energy-intensive industries. Together, we can achieve Malaysia’s ambitious Net-Zero Emissions (NZE) target by 2050, while simultaneously boosting economic growth, creating green jobs, and safeguarding our precious environment for generations to come. Together, we can make sustainable decarbonisation a reality, ensuring a brighter, cleaner, and more prosperous future for Malaysia and the world.

Join us.

The author is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Engineering, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN). She is a Certified Energy Auditor and Manager by Malaysia Greentech Corporation. She may be reached at [email protected]

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