Sustainable public procurement the way forward

When govts are going for low-carbon investments, it already sends a signal to the private sector


SUSTAINABLE public procurement is an excellent way to lead in efforts to reduce carbon emission, according to regional director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Asia and the Pacific Dr Dechen Tsering.

She said such procurement can be a pioneer to move forward because when governments are going for low-carbon investments, it already sends a signal to the private sector.

While the climate emergency poses a huge problem, many of the solutions are already there. To accelerate the solutions, it starts at a local level in one’s country, Tsering said during a webinar titled “Business and the Environment” organised by CIMB Bank Bhd yesterday.

“If you talk about the Paris Agreement in 2015, what it did was to keep the world within the 2°C increase in temperature and when countries came to legally bind the agreement it started with nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

“As countries have agreed to a target and come up with policies and sectors to upscale, we are going to see a massive shift in how we use energy and infrastructure,” she said.

She pointed out that the NDCs will pave the way for various shifts such as carbon pricing.

“These shifts are going to come very quickly so people will have to start recognising and be aware of it. The better the public sector can lead along with the private sector, the quicker the transition can be,” said Tsering.

According to her, Asean countries will see 140 million new consumers, representing 16% of the world’s total and the impact of the consumers on the region, as well as the world’s natural resources and ecosystems will be massive.

She commented on the potential of a carbon tax that can help reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change in the future.

“Some countries have put in taxes, but I think more of what will come will internalise the amount of carbon being used and so, that means certain businesses will be more competitive than other businesses.

“I think we will see that taxes will internalise carbon pricing, for example, if we look at foods that have air miles (being imported and exported by air) versus something that is locally produced, the latter will start to be more competitive so we are going to see more of that,” she said.

On talks about the green new deal and the likes of it that will help Asean nations transition to zero-carbon including Malaysia — which recently announced its commitment to get to net-zero by 2050 — she said based on Asean countries stimulus, very little of it is going to invest in greening.

“If you start to think of an injection of that scale, this is the time to build infrastructure that uses less carbon and has energy systems that are more sustainable.

“We have been really advocating and working with economists and governments to try to direct some of this to greener investments including more renewable energy (RE) and households having solar panels,” she said.

She also said greening will bring about a multiplier of economic impact as it is good for value chains at home, domestic markets, as well as farmers and entrepreneurs at the local level.