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IPW: how data can support sustainable development, and Malaysia’s renewable energy transition

05 September 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, better data analysis can help maximise infrastructure investment, and Malaysia launches energy transition roadmap.

IPW: how data can support sustainable development, and Malaysia’s renewable energy transition
Malaysia plans to install 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2025. Image credit: Shutterstock

Helping governments align infrastructure investment with sustainable development

G20 governments are expected to invest US$12.4tn into infrastructure between 2020-2030, analysis by the Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) has found.

That’s around 1.3% of G20 GDP.

But there’s limited data about how those plans align with climate goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GI Hub is developing a framework to support data gathering, analysis and application.

Better evidence can help governments translate investment plans into national strategies and implementation mechanisms that support sustainable development.

The framework uses 15 transition pathways – the broad actions that will help create sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure.

GI Hub’s analysis has highlighted some common trends, including:

  • G20 governments are focusing more on decarbonisation than on climate adaptation, with investment in resilience being very low across all sectors.
  • Increasing renewable energy share is by far the highest decarbonisation trend. But, renewable energy can only remove up to 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so governments must look elsewhere to meet climate targets.

The initiative could also help scale up private sector participation in sustainable infrastructure.

GI Hub says national infrastructure plans that commit to sustainable infrastructure will reduce market uncertainty by sending clear signals about long-term government priorities.

How governments are approaching transport decarbonisation

One of the 15 pathways is transport decarbonisation.

Improving transport services is a priority for both emerging and advanced economies, reflecting the range of positive economic and social outcomes it enables.

However, GI Hub’s analysis has also found that:

  • Most governments are focused on increasing the number of electric and hydrogen transport vehicles, but fewer have set targets for emissions reductions.
  • The proportion of overall investment in rail and road transport focused on decarbonisation is still relatively low – around 12% and 16% of total investment respectively.
  • Just over half (56%) of G20 governments have committed to decarbonising road transport in their infrastructure plans. But only five have committed to decarbonising rail transport.

The research suggests that more needs to be done to ’bridge the gap’ in decarbonising transport investments over the next few decades.

The ICE’s view:

The SDGs are a blueprint for achieving a better future. But staying on track to deliver them is challenging.

The 2023 Sustainable Development Report found that, on current progress, none of the SDGs will be met at the global level.

Initiatives such as the GI Hub’s transition pathways can be invaluable in providing robust evidence to support governments working towards the SDGs and other climate goals.

Indeed, enhancing data-quality for better decision-making is one of the 12 principles of the ICE-led Enabling Better Infrastructure programme.

This is vital for turning ambitious goals into deliverable strategies to accelerate sustainable development.

The next phase of GI Hub’s transition pathways initiative will include developing a decision-making tool for strategic infrastructure planning.

Malaysia publishes National Energy Transition Roadmap

The Malaysian government has set out how it will reduce carbon emissions and achieve climate resilience in its energy sector by 2050.

Its National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) outlines 50 initiatives under six energy transition levers.

These levers include:

  • energy efficiency
  • renewable energy
  • hydrogen
  • bioenergy
  • green mobility
  • carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS)

The five enablers will be financing, policy and regulation, human capital, technology and governance.

For example, the government will set up a National Energy Transition Facility backed by 2 billion ringgit (about US$430 million) of seed money.

The new announcements are in addition to 10 flagship catalyst projects announced in July.

These include a new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, new solar and hydro infrastructure, and a plan to install 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2025.

The NETR highlights the role of the energy transition in meeting Malaysia’s wider national aspirations and commitment to sustainable development.

But the scale of the challenge is substantial.

In 2019, the energy sector emitted 78.5% of Malaysia’s total emissions. The NETR aims to increase the share of renewable energy supply from just 3.9% in 2020 to 22% in 2050.

The ICE’s view:

The roadmap prepared by Malaysia’s government recognises that achieving sustainable development and meeting major infrastructure challenges requires the certainty of a long-term vision that transcends political cycles.

The ICE continues to promote long-term infrastructure planning.

The EBI programme also provides key decision-makers around the world with the tools they need to do this successfully.

In case you missed it

  • Why strategic road investment in England should focus more on maintenance, not expansion.
  • ICE director of policy Chris Richards outlines why the ICE is the go-to expert in infrastructure policy.
  • ICE policy fellows Steve Lee and Duncan Symonds examine how the US and other countries plan to make the most of the economic benefits from the net zero transition.

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from the ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • David McNaught, policy manager at ICE