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Malaysia: Tawau Moves Forward to Specify Their Climate Action Plan

Tawau is a district in Sabah, Malaysia, located at the border of Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the coastal area of Southeast Sabah (facing the Sea of Sulu and Cerebes). The main economic activity in Tawau is agricultural with more than 123,725 hectares of potential land for this purpose being developed for oil palm, cocoa, rubber, and coconut farming.

Supported by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and CDP, Tawau has completed the 2017 greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA). On 13 October 2020, IUC Helpdesk and UTM had a robust discussion with Tawau City on reviewing, refining & finalizing the proposed climate mitigation and adaptation actions based on the CRVA and GHGI results.

The climate risk analysis has projected that tropical storm, storm surge, and flood would increase in the future. It has observed the affected most vulnerable sectors and affected vulnerable populations for each climate risk, in addition to the social impact. For illustration, the flood has affected some sectors (transportation and emergency services) and vulnerable groups (low-income households; persons living in sub-standard housing).  As a social impact, the flood also costs significant loss and damage and increased demand for public services.

To respond to the challenge of the increased climate risk, the adaptation strategies were established in the proposed CAP. The strategies comprised three goals; namely 1) reduce property damage due to rainstorm and flooding by 50% by 2030 compared to 2017; 2) reduce downtime of utilities caused by tropical storms by 30% by 2030 compared to 2017; 3) reduce the number of dengue cases by 50% by 2030 compared to 2017 level.

Tawau accounted for 1,561 kilo ton of GHG emissions in 2017. Energy-related CO2 emissions accounted for about 84 percent of Tawau’s GHG emission, and the rest was associated with to waste sector (16%). Energy use in stationary sources dominated, accounting for 59% of total emissions. Industrial buildings generated 36% of emissions, while commercial buildings accounted for 11% of emissions. Residential accounted for 10% of emissions, and agriculture contributed only 2% of emissions. Emissions from transportation comprised 25% of the total emissions. Tawau’s per capita emission was estimated at 3.1 tCO2eq.

The interim Climate Action Plan (CAP) proposed to set the target of 45% emission intensity reduction by 2030 compared to the base year 2010. The emerging strategies were developed to reach the GHG reduction goal, focusing the effort to shift to a low carbon economy. The suggested planned actions included low carbon farming, eco-tourism, and clean and greening industry and promoted Waste to Energy (WtE) for existing agro-industries such as the palm oil industry. It was also suggested to reinforce the urban governance for the promotion of regulation related to waste separation.

The planned actions, both in mitigation and adaptation, were expected to ensure Tawau as a vibrant and sustainable city for current and future generations. This would be crucial as, in the future, Tawau would become an entrance gate from a new candidate of the capital city of Indonesia. This would potentially huge increase in its economic development.

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