COP28 Talks: Dr Renard Siew, Sustainability leader at Yinson

Dr Renard Siew, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Malaysian energy infrastructure and technology company Yinson Holdings Berhad, on the COP28 opportunity

We hear a lot in the media about climate change being the biggest challenge of our generation, but it is young sustainability champions like Renard Siew (and his peers) that may play the most significant role in this existential battle.

Recognised as one of ASEAN’s leading environmental activists and climate change specialists, Renard has also been named one of Asia’s 21 Young Leaders and one of Malaysia’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Green Warriors.

In his current role as Head of Corporate Sustainability at Yinson, a Malaysia-based technology holding company with a market cap of US$1.6 billion, Renard has been instrumental in developing an ESG strategy and roadmap for the group. 

Called 30 by 30, the targets are specific, measurable, time-bound and science-based. Some are yearly targets to be maintained while others are targets to be achieved by 2030, such as installing EV chargers and investments into green businesses.

With this action, Yinson aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, and net zero by 2050, and is actively pursuing a low-carbon future.

So what does Siew consider to be the biggest challenge to that future vision?

“Global supply chains can make it difficult for companies to track and manage their environmental and social impact of their entire operations, especially since they depend on suppliers from different regions,” says Siew. 

“Adding to this layer of complexity is inconsistent regulations relating to climate change. A lack of standardised policies across regions may pose a huge challenge to a company operating in multiple jurisdictions.”

Companies like Yinson, with offices in multiple countries in Southeast Asia, as well as in Europe, Africa, India, and South America.

Promoting the energy transition

Interestingly, there is no Yinson presence in the Middle East, but Siew thinks it is important that COP28 is being hosted in the region, and specifically in the UAE.

“The Middle East is a major player in the global energy market, with significant oil and gas reserves,” says Siew. 

“Addressing climate change in this region is essential for transitioning to a more sustainable energy future and diversifying the energy mix. The UAE, in particular, has made significant strides in renewable energy, with projects such as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy. 

“Hosting COP in the UAE can showcase the potential for renewable energy in the region and highlight the importance of transitioning to cleaner energy sources.”

The shift to renewable energy is part of the solution, but let’s not forget that the real focus of COP28 is the global stocktake – seeing how well, or how badly, the world has done since the Paris Agreement.

This stocktake takes place every five years, and this first stocktake will conclude at COP28. This will decide what measures need to be adopted next.

So what does Siew hope to come out of COP28? Does he feel positive about the outcomes and actions that will be decided?

“I hope that countries will commit to ambitious and concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he says. 

“This includes setting clear targets for renewable energy adoption, emission reductions, and other sustainable practices. I also hope that we will see increased collaboration and cooperation among nations, businesses, and organisations to collectively address climate change.”

Siew also hopes that developed nations will fulfil and indeed enhance their commitments to climate finance and the Loss and Damage Fund – supporting developing countries (including Malaysia) in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

“International partnerships are crucial for tackling this global challenge effectively,” states Siew, and few could argue with that.

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