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YTL's 2nd Climate Change Week 2008

   
(L-R) Ruth Yeoh, Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh, Dato' Yeoh Soo Min, Jacob Yeoh

Kuala Lumpur – April 11, 2008

 

In line with escalating global urgency for action against global warming, YTL Corporation Berhad today announced Climate Change Week 2008 would be held from 29 April – 4 May, 2008. Climate Change Week is a public outreach initiative designed to educate and raise environmental awareness, with the mission of inspiring action amongst Malaysians to find solutions towards mitigating the risks associated with the time-critical issue of global warming.

 

YTL, with its long-standing involvement and commitment to environmental protection, launched its first Climate Change Week in March 2007, following the release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (UNIPCC) landmark report that stated that mankind had a short window of 10 years to address climate change before its negative effects became irreversible.   

 

"Despite the undisputable evidence for climate change today, there are still many individuals, businesses and governments hesitant to accept this unavoidable reality and take decisive action on this critical economic and humanitarian issue”, said Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh, Managing Director of YTL Corporation Berhad, explaining why this year’s Climate Change Week activities were focused on solutions, instead of merely highlighting the problems of climate change.

 

Tan Sri Francis spoke extensively on the importance of sustainable development and the crucial role of corporations, businesses, governments and individuals in leading the development and implementation of environmentally sustainable practices, such as the use of renewable energy and clean technologies, initiatives that have been part of YTL’s core strategy for over a decade.

 

In line with their commitment to sustainable practices, YTL took the occasion to launch the new ‘Renewable Energy and Environment Fund (REEF), an Asia-Pacific green investment fund that is set to create tremendous opportunities for far-sighted investors who want to play their part in the climate change solution. The fund offers an international portfolio of clean technology companies involved in carbon credits, pollution control, energy efficiency, recycling, and alternative energies like wind, solar and bio fuels, all of which will contribute immensely to the climate change solution.  This is the second fund that YTL will be a main investor of, as they are also principal investors of the Asian Renewable Energy and Environment Fund (AREEF) which was launched during the same time as Climate Change Week last year.  

 

On this note Tan Sri Francis said, “We have no doubt that clean and green technology is set to be the largest economic opportunity we've seen so far this century. Not only does clean tech as an investment opportunity potentially have no ceiling — but it also inspires faith in our solutions, which can potentially save the world from further destruction. Now, this is what you call plain economic and common sense,” he added.

 

At Climate Change Week 2008, Malaysians can look forward to a host of exciting and thought-provoking activities that reach out to Malaysians of all ages and interests. The one-day business conference, to be held on May 2 at the Carlton Conference Centre, Ritz Carlton Hotel, is themed ‘Energy Security and Climate Change in the 21st Century’, and explores the critical role of (clean) technology in tackling climate change challenges, specifically those related to energy and the usage of natural resources.

 

Climate Change Week will also see the international book launch of WASTEnomics: Turning Waste Liabilities into Assets’, a publication that looks at one of the most critical issues of our time: Waste. It provides strategic insights into product and process innovation to minimise waste. Co-edited by Dr. Kenny Tang CFA, Founder/Chief Executive Officer at Oxbridge Climate Capital, one of UK’s leading carbon and clean tech consultants, together with Jacob Yeoh, Executive Director of YTL Corporation’s construction division, the book contains what every responsible corporation needs to know in order to manage their waste and turn the liabilities of waste into assets.

 

To reach out powerfully to hearts and minds, YTL is sponsoring free public screenings of ‘The 11th Hour’, the acclaimed climate change documentary, which has been brought to Malaysia by YTL, exclusively for this event. Produced and narrated by Hollywood actor & environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the film explores how we live and impact Earth’s ecosystems and what we can do as global citizens to change the course mankind is headed for. Tickets are available via online registration at

www.ytlcommunity.com/climatechange from 11-22 April, on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, and will be screened at The KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) from 30 April to 4 May, 2008.

 

In order to spread climate change awareness to our next generation, there will be a Climate Change Youth Workshop on May 3 to help encourage environmental thinking and practices in schools. The free interactive full-day workshop, held at The KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), is open to any secondary school in the Klang Valley and features a fun-filled programme for teachers and their students, providing them with the tools to plan and implement sustainable practices in their schools.  

 

There will also be a YTL Climate Change Gala to raise funds for three Malaysian conservation groups, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Reef Check Malaysia (coral reef conservation) and TrEES (Treat Every Environment Special) (community programmes for sustainable lifestyles). 

 

For more information on Climate Change Week 2008, including conference registration and free movie ticket sign-up, please visit www.ytlcommunity.com/climatechange

   
Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh at the launch of YTL's Climate Change Week

Text of speech by Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh, CBE

 

Launch of Climate Change Week 2008

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Friday, 11 April 2008

 

Speech by: 

Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh

Managing Director, YTL Corporation Berhad

 

 

Good afternoon:

§         Distinguished Guests

§         Friends from the Media

§         Ladies & Gentlemen

 

Thank you all for joining us today for this exciting occasion, the launch of our second Climate Change Week, taking place from April 29 to May 4th.    

 

When I stood here just over one year ago to launch the very first Climate Change Week, Malaysia had just experienced its first bitter taste of global warming. Once an abstract topic that affected faraway places like Antarctica, global warming came crashing onto our doorstep with the devastating Johor floods, which saw tens of thousands of Malaysians losing their homes, personal belongings and livelihoods, not to mention the tremendous economic damage incurred. 

 

Then, on its tail came the release of the United Nation’s landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the foremost authority on global warming, which stated with certainty for the first time that human activity was the “most likely” cause, that is with a probability of over 90%, of almost all warming in the last 50 years.

 

While these were not happy facts or events to ponder, it did help set the stage for Climate Change Week, which aimed to create awareness amongst Malaysians for this critical issue, as well as the serious implications of our non-action. Thus, it was truly heartening for us to note that so many Malaysians supported its events, including many who had never given a previous thought to environmental issues before.        

 

One year on, we are still in the early days in terms of widespread commitment to addressing this issue. Despite the undisputable evidence, global warming is still perceived by many as some vague threat. Unfortunately,  ladies and gentlemen, ignorance is not bliss. We have to face up to the irrefutable reality of things, that climate change is indeed “An Inconvenient Truth” that we have to accept and act on today. For those of you who saw the incredible Al Gore documentary of the same name at Climate Change Week last year, I’m sure you’ll agree that changing the way we think and live is a minor inconvenience, given the horrifying certainty of weather related disasters that await us if we don’t.        

 

Recent Nobel Prize Winner and IPCC chairman, Professor Rajendra Pachauri stated the ultimatum in no uncertain terms:  "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late - what we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." 

 

YTL’s commitment to the Environment

 

Ladies & Gentlemen.

 

That brings us to the reason we are here today, the official launch of Climate Change Week 2008. This year, we have lined up a fantastic series of thought-provoking activities we hope will inform and inspire more Malaysians to play their part in this fight against climate change.

 

We have a world-class business conference focusing on technological solutions; the international launch of WASTEnomics, a new business guide to turning waste into profits; a Climate Change fundraising Gala in aid of Malaysian conservation, a youth workshop for high schools, and lastly, free public screenings of the thrilling environmental documentary, “The 11th Hour”, narrated by Leonardo Dicaprio. But I’ll leave my daughter Ruth, YTL’s very own environmental ambassador, to tell you more about these exciting events shortly.   

 

Sustainable development is a topic that is very close to my heart, and has been a core issue at YTL for many years now.  It is not a “cause” that we simply adopted, but instead a commitment that hinges on our responsibility as one of the leading infrastructure conglomerates in Asia. 

 

As I’ve shared on many occasions, YTL strongly believes that environmental protection is not only a moral issue, but an ethical responsibility, hence our long term commitment and passionate involvement in conservation through the years.  Across the Group, YTL has been working to reduce our carbon footprint by conserving energy, cutting carbon emissions, protecting natural resources, as well as supporting the development and implementation of clean technology in our companies and beyond.

The role of Technology in tackling climate change

Ladies and gentlemen.

Today, I would like to share with you some of YTL’s latest developments in emerging areas, which are geared towards tackling the issue of climate change.  

 

I’m sure many of you followed the recent UN Climate Change Summit in Bali, which successfully produced an agenda for negotiation amongst countries, as well as a roadmap and deadline for tackling climate change in the next two years.  One of the four key areas identified as priority was the importance of technology and its role in tackling climate change.

 

Over a decade ago, YTL began innovating ways to use clean technology, realising the implications of uncontrolled carbon emissions into the atmosphere, as well as exploring renewable energy sources, due to the heavy energy demands of the utilities and construction industries.  For example, as a key utilities player, we insist that our equipment suppliers continuously work to improve their technology, not just because we demand it, but also due to the big consumer push for it. 

 

Given the extremely urgent deadline (of just one decade) that we have to solve climate change, there is no doubt in our mind that technology is going to be a key “make or break” factor for the world. 

To illustrate its impact and importance, lets take our ERL project or our proposed Malaysia-Singapore fast train project - just imagine the reduction of carbon emissions saved as a result of the millions of cars it will replace! Going a step further, imagine the carbon reductions possible and the reduction in fossil fuel usage if clean technology and renewable energy were implemented across all industries, especially major ones like plantations, transportation, engineering, and manufacturing. 

Unfortunately, there are still many skeptics in government and business alike, who feel that we should wait to cut back on fossil fuels only when greener technology has been developed to supply our energy needs - which is what many economists are advising their respective governments to do. Considering the deadly consequences of such a waiting game, this is indeed a key issue that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

 

This, ironically, ladies and gentlemen, is where the problem presents itself as the solution.  Economics may once have been an acceptable excuse for not adapting government policies and business strategies to climate change challenges, but today, this argument no longer stands true.

 

Many major companies across industries have been working hard to put sustainability policies and practises into place, and have done so with results that prove the exact opposite.  In YTL itself, we have seen firsthand how sustainability programmes and policies have reaped outstanding results. To illustrate, I would like to share some of the latest developments and results from Wessex Water, our utilities company in the UK, which has been recognised by the UK water industry regulator Ofwat, as the most efficient operator in England and Wales, for three year running.

 

As a progressive utilities company, Wessex is very much focused on reducing its carbon footprint, with becoming carbon neutral as a major part of our sustainability vision.  This is crucial because the water industry happens to be an inherently energy intensive business. And this becomes more challenging each year, due to the stringent water and effluent regulatory standards in Europe, which require more advanced, hence energy intensive treatments.  As a sustainable utilities player with a long term goal of working towards carbon neutrality, we have countered this increase in energy use through an annually renewed carbon management strategy, which helps offset some of this rise through our energy efficiency measures. 

 

To address this, our strategy is two-fold. Firstly, we have a strong monitoring system put into place to measure and track energy usage, and secondly, we are pursuing and steadily increasing renewable energy usage, wherever possible.  

 

 

For example, we continuously monitor our treatment works and pumping stations to identify sites where energy use is higher than expected, then seek energy efficient measures to reduce usage.  More importantly, we have made excellent strides in increasing our usage of renewable energy from various sources, with plans to increase in time. 

 

Our renewable energy policy includes: 

 

1)       Bio Gas energy

 

Wessex already produces 8MW of electricity from biogas produced in digesters – which is 8% of our current electricity use - and continuous improvements to plants will lead to more use of biogas in time. Overall, these generators represent about 12,000mt of CO2 savings per annum, which is quite significant.

 

2)       Biomass energy

 

Wessex buys cellulose waste from various sources in the form of wood pellets which are then combusted to generate power. This currently contributes to about 1MW of energy usage.

 

 

 

3)       Wind energy

 

Wessex currently has about 1MW of installed capacity and will continue to increase capacity in plant areas where wind speeds are constant and strong. This will be particularly effective during winter months. 

 

       4) And lastly:  Solar energy

 

Wessex has about 1MW of installed capacity of PV cells at the moment.  This is particularly effective during summer months where there is sunlight till almost 10.00PM daily.    

 

Ladies and gentlemen.

 

Finding new ways to decrease our dependency on fossil fuels, and thus our contribution to climate change, is a priority for Wessex, which is why using renewable energy has become so important.  This year, Wessex has increased the total amount of renewable energy generated from 21GWh to 25.8GWh.  

 

This is indeed significant because it equates to almost 39% of our total energy use, compared with the national water industry figure of 14% in 2005 and 2006.  With our targets firmly in sight, by 2020, we aim to take 50% of our energy from renewable sources and eventually grow that figure to 100%.

 

It is essential, if not critical, that companies everywhere make energy efficiency a key part of their business strategy.  The impact we would have on reducing climate change would be tremendous, and at Wessex, we have seen how significant such efforts can be.  

 

This year, our total level of greenhouse gas emissions was the second lowest since detailed data collection began over a decade ago, which is directly due to our increased use of renewable energy. Since the advent of cleaner transport fuels, the key contributor to atmospheric emissions is no longer transportation, but linked instead to energy use, which now accounts for over 90% of our emissions. 

 

Following the increase in our use of renewable energy over the last 2 years, the levels of all emissions have fallen considerably. For example, the level of sulphur dioxide we emit each year has been reduced by over 60% in the last decade.

 

With these results, we are pleased to say that Wessex Water is currently meeting our target path of reducing emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050, as prescribed in the UK Climate Change Bill. 

 

Ladies and gentlemen.

 

Perhaps a few years ago, such achievements could have been written off as exceptions to the rule. However, major global trends in the last year or so are telling a very different story. In parts of Asia and across Europe and America, there is a boom in clean technology investments, thanks to increasing market interest and demand in this field.

 

In a recent issue of TIME magazine, clean tech was identified a prime target for the smartest — and richest — investors in the world. Green investment by American venture-capital firms reached $2.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2007 alone, the highest level ever recorded, and nearly 50% more than the total for the whole of 2006. In China, the country unquestionably set to be the world’s largest consumer of energy, almost a whopping 20% of all venture capital went towards clean companies in 2006 — double the percentage in the U.S. 

 

Simply put, we have no doubt that energy and green technology is set to be the largest economic opportunity we've seen so far this century. The potential of clean tech as an investment opportunity has no ceiling. Even better, it comes with the side benefit of potentially saving the world, which is what I call plain, good old-fashioned economic sense.

 

Given the importance of technology and its role in tackling climate change, YTL would like to reaffirm its commitment to pushing for more investments in this field, as financial support and investor interest are going to be major success factors behind its adoption and widespread application.

 

A year ago, we championed the Asian Renewable Energy and Environment Fund (AREEF), which posted a 28% return in 2007.  Today, we have taken our commitment to clean tech development a step further and are proud to announce our participation in the new Renewable Energy and Environment Fund, or REEF, an Asia-Pacific green investment fund that is set to create tremendous opportunities for far-sighted investors who want to participate in climate change opportunities.

 

Given that Asia is now contributing the most to global growth and unfortunately to global pollution as well, tremendous opportunities exist in the renewable energy and environmental sectors, especially as more affluent Asians are demanding a better environment to live in. These demands have led to the formulation of green policies and legislation, and this Fund hopes to profit from these trends.

 

We hope we will see strong interest from institutional investors in this field, as their support for the development and implementation of renewable energy and clean technology will have a major impact on how fast solutions to climate change are put into place.  

 

In line with that, I urge all far sighted CEO’s, senior managers and interested Malaysians to actively participate in the upcoming Climate Change Week, as it promises to offer many opportunities for learning. The business conference, for example, is bringing together both international and local experts from the fields of alternative energy, waste management, electronic recycling, banking, investment, and of course, clean tech, to share their successful insights, strategies and solutions for tackling climate change.  I assure you it will be very much worth your while to attend this event.      

 

As I come to a close, I want to mention one particular aspect of this year’s activities - the YTL Climate Change Gala. This is a fundraising event that we are organising in support of three highly deserving Malaysian conservation groups: Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), who have been conserving important habitats, raising public awareness and advocating environmental policy for almost 70 years; Reef Check Malaysia, who conserves and protects priceless local coral reefs; and TrEES (Treat Every Environment Special), who promote sustainable lifestyles at the local community level through programmes like community recycling centres. 

 

 

As stewards of God’s green earth, YTL has long supported conservation via international groups like The Nature Conservancy, as well as WWF Malaysia and Rare Conservation Malaysia. Just last year, these two groups received individual YTL grants of USD100,000 each for tiger conservation and community conservation programmes, respectively. With this Gala, we hope other concerned Malaysians will come forward with their generous support to ensure our priceless environmental heritage will be preserved for future generations.

 

So far, we have received encouraging support from quite a number of generous “greenies” who have pledged support to our fundraiser.  We pray that we will not only meet, but also surpass our target of raising RM500,000 for these three groups, who are selflessly working towards a more sustainable future for all Malaysians.    

 

Before ending, I want to thank all our friends in the Media who have kindly attended our event today.  We are grateful for your support, and hope you will continue to cover the climate change issue extensively, because it is only though awareness that change can come.

 

As a parting thought, I will leave you with an excerpt from the closing comments of the Indian delegation at the recent UN Summit in Bali, which I feel expresses the spirit in which climate change will be overcome: 

 

“What is at stake is saving our future generations. And therefore, it is not a question of what you will commit, or what I will commit.

It is a question of what we will commit together to meet that challenge!”

 

 

 

Thank you and God Bless.

 

-end-

 




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