Southeast Asia urged to take firm steps vs climate change

Experts in climate change urged Southeast Asian countries to step up efforts to combat global warming more urgently following reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on implications of the climate crisis on critical sectors and economic development in the region.

“We can strengthen the participation of countries in the international arena through research input—by mobilizing developing countries’ leading experts, practitioners, and scientists to strengthen the regional climate science agenda to build a common understanding,” said Dr. Mahawan Karuniasa, Indonesia Expert Network for Climate Change and Forestry (APIK Indonesia Network) chairman and co-founding member of the regional group Asia Climate Experts.

“A regional perspective is the best position to learn from one another and redouble our efforts, and the time is now,” Karuniasa added during a virtual forum on May 23.

Based on the mitigation report under the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle, the world would encounter inevitable climate hazards in the next two decades once global warming breaches the 1.5-degree threshold. Once this level has been exceeded, there will be severe impacts.

The forum coincided with the International Day of Biological Diversity.

ICSC energy transition advisor Alberto Dalusung III said energy has a direct impact on biodiversity, as fossil fuels continue to pollute the world’s resources adversely affecting life on land and water.

“As renewable energy and grid modernization investments continue to increase in the region, Indonesia taking the lead in the energy transition provides a signal to policymakers in other Southeast Asian countries to make the shift,” said Dalusung.

The call is not only to shift to renewable energy, but also to reallocate funds from fossil fuel-related investments to clean energy programs consistent with net-zero goals.

“Accelerated climate action in mitigating and adapting to impacts is critical to sustainable development. We need equity on adaptation and mitigation finance, considering investments for the co-benefits which are prominent in the IPCC discussions,” said Angelo Kairos dela Cruz, ICSC deputy executive director.

“Climate finance and governance go beyond political boundaries and timelines. It is best if the current and future political climate should take these policy recommendations, especially those from our scientists, as part of the regional and country priority agenda,” added dela Cruz.