KUCHING, Nov 25: More ambitious targets are necessary to accelerate and achieve a just energy transition in combating climate change with immediate action even more crucial, especially for the private sector.
This was articulated by Sarawak Energy Group CEO Datu Sharbini Suhaili who was a session panellist at a side event organised at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) pavilion at the recent 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.
He also reminded the audience which included virtual participants that renewable hydropower was the “forgotten giant of low-carbon electricity” in the energy transition.
“We (Sarawak Energy) are fortunate that the Sarawak Government has been very committed towards realising a more sustainable and inclusive transition for everybody.
“In fact, the Sarawak government’s vision of leveraging and harnessing our hydropower potential in the 1980s has allowed us to transition our generation mix from 92 per cent fossil fuel in 2010 to more than 60% renewable hydropower in 2014,” he said in sharing how Sarawak was ahead of the energy transition curve through State-government led policies and strategies.
Sharbini believes that for companies to develop and implement better strategies and plans for lower carbon operations and more meaningful action, bolder government policies and frameworks would provide the enablers and impetus for the private sector to deliver the energy transition targets, saying it is time for urgent actions and not setting more targets and longer debates.
“The private sector has a much bigger role to play in energy transition and we need to have stronger corporate commitment in the region. Sarawak Energy was the first corporate body in Malaysia to commit to the 1.5C pledge.
“We have already achieved the Paris Target of 2o Celsius on grid emission intensity and we are trying to lower this further to 1.5o Celsius by 2030. That shows how we can do more with great support from policy makers and the collaboration we have with other industries,” said Sharbini.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA, at least 850,000 MW of new hydropower capacity is needed by 2050 to limit global temperature increase to below 2° Celsius below pre-industrial level and over 1,300,000MW (1,300GW) to keep it below 1.5 degrees.
“Given hydropower’s capability of producing low-carbon electricity and its flexibility to allow for the integration of more intermittent wind and solar power, there needs to be a holistic policy and investment push to accelerate hydropower’s growth regionally and globally. With ASEAN’s hydropower potential, we can achieve our climate ambition and common prosperity at regional level,” said Sharbini.
Sharbini was a panellist on the “Decarbonising the ASEAN way- Harnessing the Collective Actions of ASEAN Private Sectors” session. Other distinguished speakers included Daniel Purba, Senior Vice President Strategy of Investment for PT Pertamina (Persero) Indonesia; Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer for City Development Limited, Singapore and Dan Pathomvanich, CEO of NR Instant Produce Public Company Limited, Thailand.
It was moderated by Mohd Irwan Aman, in his capacity as a board member of UN Global Compact Network Malaysia and Brunei who also serves as Sarawak Energy’s Head of Sustainability.
Dato Mohamad Razif Abdul Mubin, Deputy Secretary General (Energy) for the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Malaysia gave the opening keynote address.
Sharbini also explained that Sarawak Energy aimed to advance the energy transition across the region by sharing its resources through interconnections and sharing its sustainable hydropower development knowledge.
Sarawak Energy achieved first power export through a successful interconnection with West Kalimantan, Indonesia in 2016 and has signed a Power Exchange Agreement with neighbouring state Sabah.
Currently, the company is pursuing a feasibility study with its Singapore partners for potential power export to Singapore. The company is also progressing a hydropower project in North Kalimantan.
“For ASEAN, the level of (energy) transition varies as it is largely driven by political, economic, technological, social and environmental factors with different countries having different priorities and focus, so we all need to get together to ensure we are all moving on the same path towards a clean energy future,” he added.
Ahead of his attendance at COP27, Sharbini was invited to the Global Business Leaders Event held on 4 November in London to mark the conclusion of the United Kingdom’s COP26 Presidency, hosted by COP26 President Rt Hon Alok Sharma.
He was amongst a select group of Global CEOs and Senior United Kingdom government ministers who convened to discuss collective actions on climate and sustainable growth.
Also present were British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US Climate Envoy John Kerry.
As part of the same event, Sharbini was invited to attend a Royal Reception hosted by His Majesty King Charles III of the United Kingdom at Buckingham Palace.
Sarawak Energy was well represented at COP27 which builds on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on issues critical to tackling the climate emergency focused on the role of renewable hydropower in decarbonisation initiatives.
Siti Aisah Adenan, Senior Vice President for Corporate Services, who is also Executive Champion for the Sarawak Energy Leading Women Network, spoke on the panel entitled “Women in Power- Getting to Gender Equality in Hydropower” a side event organised by the International Hydropower Association.
Mohd Irwan spoke in the panel session on “The Rise of Sustainable Finance in Malaysia: Opportunities for Business and Investors” and on the panel session for “The Water-Energy Nexus and Opportunities on the horizon for the Global South” hosted by the Global Wind Energy Council focusing primarily on Long Duration Energy Storage.
Sarawak Energy’s ongoing efforts in embedding sustainable practices into its business and operations and became the first company in Malaysia to sign the pledge for “Business Ambition for 1.5°Celsius” under the United Nations Global Compact in July 2020. By signing the pledge, Sarawak Energy commits to setting a science-based emission reduction target across relevant scopes, in line with the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030.
Since then, Sarawak Energy has developed a high-level sustainability strategy on Climate Action to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts.
Together with science-based targets initiative (SBTi) under the “Business Ambition for 1.5°Celsius” pledge, Sarawak Energy has embarked into voluntary climate-related financial disclosures guided by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) for better governance and management of climate-related risks. This will increase the effectiveness in measuring, managing and reporting climate-related risks pertaining to Sarawak Energy and its supply chain.
Sharbini is an elected Board Member of the International Hydropower Association, an organisation that advocates for sustainable hydropower development.
He is also leading the Renewable Energy Sector in the Sarawak Economic Action Council which develops strategies, policies, and roadmaps to accelerate Sarawak’s economic growth. Recently, Sharbini was also invited by the Energy Market Authority in Singapore to speak on ‘Scaling Decarbonisation Technologies’ at SIEW’s Singapore-IRENA High Level Forum. — DayakDaily