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Conference: The Paris Climate Agreement: Issues and Implications for ASEAN

28 July 2017 – The ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS convened a conference on “The Paris Climate Agreement: Issues and Implications for ASEAN” with a view to discussing the changes and challenges for ASEAN countries arising from the implementation requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement. An additional challenge is the implication of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

ISEAS Senior Fellow, Dr Lee Poh Onn with Professor Dr Jeff Obbard, Professor of Environmental Science, Environmental Science Center, Qatar University. (Source: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)

The conference sessions covered the following key messages:

  • The evidence for the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean system in now unequivocal, and extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of climate change since 1950. Southeast Asian countries are vulnerable to climate change risks, particularly sea-level rise, temperature stress and attendant health risks, and food security caused by disturbances in weather and global food supply chains.
  • The economic costs of climate change mitigation continue to be high, especially in addressing the region’s infrastructure needs. The mitigation cost in infrastructure is estimated at USD3.1 billion, an increase of about 14% compared to the business-as-usual scenario. Multinationals are more advanced than SMEs in sustainability reporting, and the agriculture sector is under greater pressure to carry out sustainable practices. 
  • The US withdrawal timeline is actually 4 years, and thus would be effected only in 2020.  The impact of the US withdrawal could actually be beneficial, as the Parties to the Agreement will not have the US’ recalcitrance to hinder implementation. EU and China may emerge as new leaders in climate initiatives, together with the private sector.
  • For ASEAN countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, however, challenges of coordinating policies across sectors remain. Despite legal and regulatory frameworks being in place, there are gaps in enforcement mechanisms and technological capacity for compliance.

Dr Luke Thomas Kemp, Senior Economist of Vivid Economics, Associate Lecturer of Australian National University, Domestic Climate Change Economics and Policy. (Source: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)

SESSION IV: Roundtable Discussion on Climate Change Responses in ASEAN Countries. (Source: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)

Participants at the Conference. (Source: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)

More than 80 people, including diplomats, government officials, business leaders, academics, students and members of the media attended the conference.