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Transitioning to net-zero through energy efficiency takes precedence

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Climate talk: A screenshot of the panel discussing climate change during the webinar.

PETALING JAYA: Global warming, which is blamed for recent floods and rise in temperature, has become the most alarming concern affecting the world today, and requires more innovative ways and technology to minimise the surplus of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

Earlier this year United Nation (UN) secretary-general António Guterres called for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on climate to change to a “code red for humanity.”

The UN called for action, including a reduction of carbon emissions intensity by 45% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of this century.

Sunway Group executive director Ong Pang Yen said scientists’ findings shows that planet earth can absorb about 18 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, naturally through forest, oceans and soil.

The industrialised world, however, emits almost 40 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, he said.

This is much more than what the planet can absorb, resulting in a surplus of unabsorbed CO2 in the atmosphere.

“Each year, as they accumulate, the build up of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is what causes and results in global warming,” Ong said in a webinar organised by the Star Media Group.

“Scientists have estimated that our planet can, at most, tolerate another accumulation of about 400 billion tonnes of CO2, before it reaches the tipping point – or point of no return,” he added.

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Simple mathematics show that if we keep adding more than 20 billion tonnes of unabsorbed CO2 into the atmosphere, we will have less than 20 years left before the point of no return, said Ong.

The Circular Economy Conference 2022 webinar is part of Star Media Group’s knowledge-sharing and educational initiative, and is supported by platinum sponsor UOB Malaysia.

The discussion was moderated by Deloitte Malaysia chief executive officer (CEO) Yee Wing Peng.

The webinar was kickstarted by UOB Malaysia's CEO Ng Wei Wei, who shared with the audience a quote that has stuck with her closely “If you really think that the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.”

Achieving net-zero emissions is becoming a goal for most businesses as environmental concerns have risen since the Covid-19 pandemic.

"An article by Bloomberg wrote that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC’s call for the world to become net-zero by 2050 is “the most important sentence ever written".

The International Energy Agency (IEA) however noted global energy efficiency has been on the decline, despite the rise of net-zero commitments since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Over the past five years, global energy efficiency has improved on average by only 1.3% a year, well below the 4% described in the IEA’s Net-zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario 2.

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