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  Straits Times 28 Sep 07
Southeast Asia urged to make green push as a block
Being small, nations in region more vulnerable to effects of climate change, says expert
By Shobana Kesava

SOUTH-EAST Asian nations need to make a concerted effort to push green projects, in order to benefit from the potential of the industry, said a researcher in global policies on environmental issues.

Climate change is a new concern of Asean plus China, South Korea and Japan, said Dr Chen Gang, speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies' first environment and climate change seminar series.

'South-east Asia needs to push green projects as a block to match up with India and China's burgeoning number of clean investments,' said Dr Chen, a research fellow with the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore.

India has 35 per cent of the world's registered clean development mechanism (CDM) projects, according to the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

China is second at 14.5 per cent. South-east Asian countries make up under 4 per cent, of which Malaysia has half, with 16 projects registered. Singapore has none so far.

CDM projects include those in which an industrialised country implements a project that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in a developing country, and counts the resulting emission reduction against its own target.

Dr Chen said South-east Asian countries, being small, are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 'They are near the sea and vulnerable to sea levels rising.

For example, 2,000 of 17,000 Indonesian islands may be submerged by 2030 if current trends continue,' he said.

He noted that South-east Asian countries share common ground in that they do not need to commit to a specific reduction in carbon emissions as set out in the Kyoto Protocol, unlike countries such as Japan.

'They should form a block to magnify themselves or join other developing countries,' he said. While he noted that policy coordination is necessary for this to happen, he is hopeful it can be done.

'For the first time this year, the Asean summit will set climate change as a major theme,' he observed.

Mr P. Krishnamurthy, Asia Pacific director of Malaysian-based Kyotoenergy - a non-profit organisation that focuses on CDM projects - said he sees Dr Chen's call for unity becoming reality.

'All of us can see visible moves. With Singapore coming up with its first CDM project in bio-waste management, creating energy-efficient programmes and wanting to take a regional lead in trading of carbon credits, it will make things happen.'

Dr Geh Min, president of Nature Society Singapore and former Nominated MP, suggested that Singapore play a larger role. 'I believe Singapore should be a stronger voice for the environment. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew would be an ideal international advocate for change.'

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
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