Friday, December 3

‘Renewable energy, energy efficiency crucial for improving health, living standards’

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Yeoh receives her Renewable Energy Certificate from Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer and Saref chairman Datu Sharbini Suhaili while witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (right), Assistant Minister of Utilities (Rural Electricity) Datuk Liwan Lagang (left) and Sarawak Energy Strategy and Corporate Development executive vice president Ting Ching Zung. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all is vital to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people can enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030, says United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) goodwill ambassador Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh.

She pointed out that this also meant increasing energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

She said boosting renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency will not only help to reduce carbon emissions, but will also improve the health, living standards and clean energy access in communities in remote areas, such as Pacific Small Island Development States.

In a bid to address this and to ensure access to affordable and clean energy under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7, she revealed that UNDP is currently implementing close to 200 sustainable energy projects in over 100 countries.

“Over the past two decades, UNDP has mobilised over US$1 billion in grant financing leveraging close to US$6 billion in co-financing from private and public sources. However, as we all know, no one organisation or country can solve this problem by itself.

“To achieve a vision of a zero-carbon, climate-resilient future, we need everyone to work together. Governments need to team up with international organisations, the private sector, academia, and global citizens.

“That’s why Goal 17 of the SDG is called ‘Partnerships for the Goals’,” she said when delivering the special address at the opening ceremony of Sarawak Energy’s Sustainability & Renewable Energy Forum (Saref) at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here yesterday.

Yeoh emphasised the need to transform global energy sectors in order to meet SDG and the climate targets under the Paris Agreement.

“We cannot achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, without investing in renewable energy to reduce our emissions. From solar power to wind energy to renewable hydropower, we have the technology to make this work.

“Renewables are commercially viable, cost-competitive, and deployable at large-scale. They solve our energy trilemma of achieving sustainability, reliability and affordability,” she said.

However, she noted that current global energy investments are falling short of the mark.

“At US$514 billion a year, the current investments are a far cry from the US$1.3 to 1.4 trillion needed to achieve SDG 7, namely access to affordable, clean energy for all by 2030.”

Yeoh said clean energy investments are cheaper than the cost of climate change and that investing in renewable energy boosts the economy, creating millions of sustainable jobs.

“It improves people’s lives and health and it protects the environment and reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.”

She commended the Sarawak government and Sarawak Energy for taking the bold initiative in pursuing a balanced and holistic energy development strategy to ensure energy security, sustainability and affordability.

“Congratulations Sarawak and Sarawak Energy for taking this bold initiative. It’s time to get serious, raise the bar, invest in the global energy transition, and scale up renewable energy globally.

“Reaching a zero carbon, climate-resilient future may not be easy, but it is necessary and it is possible.”

Yeoh is an award-winning actress who is also dedicated to pursuing charitable causes and social endeavours through her various roles in the United Nations and other international bodies.

As UNDP goodwill ambassador, she has raised awareness and mobilised support globally for SDG since its launch in 2016.