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Southeast Asian Activists Pressurize Regional Govts to Offer Climate Action Plan

Southeast Asian Environmental Activists Say Region Must do More

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Southeast Asia Phuket
Like much of Southeast Asia, Thailand has numerous islands, including Phuket. VOA

By Ha Nguyen

Southeast Asian environmental activists  – including young counterparts to teenage activist and Time magazine person of the year Greta Thunberg – are concerned they are not getting the attention that the climate emergency deserves, complaining that the region’s authorities are leaving this month’s climate negotiations in Madrid, also known as COP25, without committing to new climate action plans for 2020, as other nations have done.

The negotiations are meant to find a way to carry out the plans, agreed to in Paris in 2015, to cut global greenhouse gas emissions. However they have broken down as negotiators cannot agree on how much rich nations should spend to support poor nations to enact the plans. Many Southeast Asian governments want such supporting funds but their constituents also say the governments need to promise more dramatic emissions decreases.

“The situation is critical: our youth are mobilizing and striking because they know that there are only 10 years left for governments to act for them to have a decent future,” Sarah Elago, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, said. “Why is it that children are doing more than the governing adults?”

Asian
Singapore said it has to spend $72 billion over the next century to construct sea walls and reclaim land around the island. VOA

Like the Philippines, almost every nation in Southeast Asia has islands or long coastlines, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Consequently, the region’s activists are particularly concerned that their governments did not offer forceful action plans at COP25, formally known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which was supposed to conclude on December 13 but continues as of press time.

Activists have exerted pressure on regional governments to offer a climate action plan but those governments say they are doing their best, as developing countries that did not create the problem.

Some say there is little point in offering action when there is none from the United States, the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions until being recently overtaken by China. Developing nations around the Asia Pacific and elsewhere are paying the price because of polluting industrialized nations, according to Basav Sen, climate policy director at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.

“Our country, as a matter of policy, prioritizes enriching its oil and gas industry over preserving the ecosystems upon which billions of people rely for their food, water and homes,” he wrote in an op-ed for the newspaper USA Today.

Southeast Malaysia
Malaysians live on the water in Penang, leaving them vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change. VOA

He recommended “responsible world governments could publicly shame the U.S. government for its climate policies.”
Southeast Asia must do more, however, Abel Da Silva, a member East Timor’s National Parliament, said.

“We cannot stay on the sidelines of this catastrophe,” said Da Silva. “Southeast Asia is contributing to climate change through its reliance on coal, its deforestation and haze crisis, and its lack of ambition in its climate action plans.”

The region has to “reverse this shameful historical trend and right our past wrongs on the climate,” he said.

Nations generally submit action plans on how they will decrease greenhouse gas emissions at the annual U.N. climate conference. Although nations do other things to deal with climate change, such as constructing walls against rising water levels, emissions are the main issue.

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Laos, which is trying to develop hydropower dams as a main industry, is the only Southeast Asian nation to set a goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 – it is also the only nation in the region that is landlocked. (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s Why Automative Technology May Have Adverse Impact on Climate, Public Health

climate trade-off is much different on the regional scale, especially in areas with high vehicle densities

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Technology
While automative technology is credited with boosting fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, GDI engines produce more black carbon aerosols than traditional port fuel injection engines. Pixabay

New automotive technology that promises enhanced fuel efficiency may have a serious downside, including significant climate and public health impacts, a new study suggests.

The gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine is one of the most prominent technologies car manufacturers adopted to achieve the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emission goals established in 2012 by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

While this technology is credited with boosting fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, GDI engines produce more black carbon aerosols than traditional port fuel injection engines, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

“Even though emissions from gasoline vehicles constitute a small fraction of the black carbon in the atmosphere, the vehicle emissions are concentrated in regions with high population densities, which magnifies their effect,” said study researcher Rawad Saleh, Assistant Professor at University of Georgia in the US.

The market share of GDI-equipped vehicles increased from 2.3 per cent in model year 2008 to 51 per cent in model year 2018. The EPA projects 93 per cent of vehicles in the US will be equipped with GDI engines by 2025. According to the study, researchers predicts the increase in black carbon emissions from GDI-powered vehicles will fuel climate warming in urban areas of the US that significantly exceeds the cooling associated with a reduction in CO2.

In addition, they believe the shift will nearly double the premature mortality rate associated with vehicle emissions, from 855 deaths annually to 1,599. The researchers estimate the annual social cost of these premature deaths at $5.95 billion. The increase of black carbon is an unintended consequence of the shift to GDI-equipped vehicles that some scientists suspected was based on experimental data, according to the researcher.

Technology
New automotive technology that promises enhanced fuel efficiency may have a serious downside, including significant climate and public health impacts. Pixabay

“This study is the first to place these experimental findings in a complex modeling framework to investigate the trade-off between CO2 reduction and an increase in black carbon,” Slah said. While previous research has reported the shift to GDI engines will result in net benefits for the global climate, the researchers said that these benefits are rather small and can only be realized on timescales of decades.

Meanwhile, the negative impact of black carbon can be felt instantaneously, they added.

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“Our research shows the climate trade-off is much different on the regional scale, especially in areas with high vehicle densities. In these regions, the climate burden induced by the increase in black carbon dominates over the climate benefits of the reduction in CO2,” said Saleh. (IANS)