At the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC), YB Yeo Bee Yin demonstrated Malaysia’s ability to take aggressive climate change action and be the catalyst to help others do better as well. However, YB Yeo stressed on the need for greater collaboration and support from the international community.

Watch the speech here or read the full speech transcript below:

Thank you Mr. President. Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Yeo Bee Yin. I’m from Malaysia, a beautiful, developing country of 30 million people in Southeast Asia. After 61 years of independence, Malaysia has just experienced the first change of government in May this year, and I have been appointed Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change in July, which is about 5 months ago.

So, I’m really a new kid on the block. But let me share with you what I think as a new kid on the block on Paris Agreement, UNFCCC, and COP24. 3 years ago, when Paris Agreement was signed, as someone outside the system looking at it, I was impressed. It was a big feat to get more than 190 countries to finally agree on something. We all know that sometimes we also have difficulties in getting our other halves at home to agree with us, not to mention the 190 countries.

Today, I am inside the system in COP24, but I must say that I am disappointed. To note that after three years, there are still attempts to deviate from the very cornerstone of Paris Agreement, climate justice, the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, and the equity in the right to develop and to prosper among the developing countries and the least developed world.

How long more do we need to keep going back, keep going back, keep going back to what the basic principles that we have agreed three years ago. How long more before it is too late?

Worst still, I have actually had a look at the financial assistance Malaysia obtained so far, and I was very surprised to note that considerable amount of assistance that we have received so far is to produce reports for UNFCCC obligations or to build the capacity to produce the reports.

How is paperwork going to help our countries and help the world? Very ironically I have come here, I have listened [to] these words, keep on listening [to] these words – urgency, urgency, urgency. Ladies and gentlemen, transparency doesn’t necessarily mean burdensome paperwork. We must know that perfecting reports and making them even thicker will not help to change the world. Real action and aggressive actions will.

So, let me say this, I call upon more trust from the developed countries. Transparency is okay, but do not burden us with unnecessary paperwork please, because we really have no time and we really need to act.

Malaysia’s commitment towards the Paris Agreement

Since we changed the government in Malaysia, Malaysia has been aggressive in our climate change action. Let me share with you a little bit of what we have done. We’ve set a new target to increase our renewable energy in electricity generation mix from 2% to 20%. This excludes large hydro above 100MW. To unlock potential of rooftop solar, we revealed net energy metering policy and introduced solar leasing policy to allow zero up-front cost of solar PV installation.

For other renewable energy, such as biogas, biomass [and] small hydro under the feed-in-tariff mechanism, we introduced e-bidding to maximise the potential of renewable energy funds. We have planned to open up our grid by 2019 to allow renewable energy trading.

We’re going big on energy efficiency too, and government is leading by example. As a matter of fact, as I am talking to you right now, my team is busy finalizing [a] energy performance contract. So, we will be able to tender out energy efficiency projects for at least 50 government buildings by Q2 next year, and we will also table the first draft of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act by mid of next year.

In terms of financing, [the] government of Malaysia [will] continue [to] bring financing scheme that give loan guarantees and interest subsidies for green industrial players. Recognising the importance of private financing, we [have] also started drafting green financing roadmap and aim to complete them by Q3 next year.

In terms of waste management, we have developed a launch in October – a roadmap towards zero single use plastic by 2030.

In terms of transport, we aim to reduce the carbon emission, we aim to double up our public transport usage from 20% to 40% by 2030. We have recently just launched a very low flat rate unlimited ride monthly pass program to promote the use of public transport.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. In [the] Chinese language, crisis is “WeiJi”. “Wei” means danger and “Ji” means opportunity. There is opportunity in every danger. Many of the initiatives I share with you here are not penalizing us economically but is making good business sense for us in Malaysia.

In the midst of climate change crisis, Malaysia wants to encourage all of us, to see this as an opportunity to develop green economy that create jobs and wealth for the world.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, just now I share[d] with you many of the efforts, but all these efforts [are] done within six months and with very little help from the developed countries. Before I decided to attend COP24, I asked myself, why did I need to come here?

I have many real actions to do at home. In fact, why [does] Malaysia needs to burn so much carbon and money to send our delegation here? It is because [of] our firm belief that Malaysia can do more and can do better with the support of [the] international community. Malaysia can also help others to do better. To simply put, we are better together.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in this fight together. Let’s fight this together. And most importantly let’s win this together. With that, I’d like to wish [for] a successful COP24, and on behalf of Malaysia, I wish every country presents here a fruitful year of fighting climate change with real action. Thank you.