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Malaysia In brief

What is Malaysiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Economy wide

Cost-effective 1.5°C compatible pathways show that Malaysia would need to reduce its emissions by 57% below 2015 emission levels by 2030 excluding LULUCF (or 141 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030). With international support, Malaysia will be able to implement a 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway and close the gap between its fair share level and modelled domestic emissions level.

Malaysiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
NDC (unconditional)
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

2030 NDC

Malaysia’s NDC aims to reduce the GHG emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030, relative to the emissions intensity of GDP in 2005. The first 35% of this reduction is unconditional. The final 10% is conditional on climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building to be provided by developed countries.

1 Malaysia Government. Report on Peninsular Malaysia Generation Development Plan 2020 (2021 – 2039). (2021).

2 The Edge Markets. Environment ministry to develop LT-LEDS for UNFCCC consideration. The Edge Markets. (2021).

3 Global Forest Watch. Malaysia Interactive Forest Map & Tree Cover Change Data. (2021).

4 WWF. Deforestation Fronts, Drivers and Responses in a Changing World. (WWF, 2021).

5 IEA. Malaysia. International Energy Agency. (2021).

6 Ministry of Environment and Water. Malaysia Third Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. (2020).

7 Greenpeace. Southeast Asia Power Sector Scorecard.(2020).

8 British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce. BMCC Sector Report 2018/2019: Oil, Gas & Energy. (2018).

9 Susskind, L. et al. Breaking Out of Carbon Lock-In: Malaysia’s Path to Decarbonization. Front. Built Environ. 6, 21 (2020). doi:10.3389/fbuil.2020.00021/full

10 KeTTHA. Green Technology Master Plan Malaysia 2017-2030. (2017).

11 Mustapa, S. I. & Bekhet, H. A. Analysis of CO2 emissions reduction in the Malaysian transportation sector: An optimisation approach. Energy Policy 89, 171–183 (2016).

12 Malaysia Government. Malaysia Third National Communication and Second Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. (2018).

13 Using Global Warming Potential AR4.

14 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

15 LULUCF emissions are projected to be -227 MtCO₂e in 2030 following a business-as-usual scenario reported in Malaysia’s Second Biennial Report.

16 As stated in the NDC. However, Malaysia participated in the Clean Development Mechanism and Voluntary Carbon Market, but these are not accounted as national mitigation actions as noted in the Biennial Report 3.

17 Fuel-efficient vehicles is defined as hybrid, electric vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen and fuel cell.

18 The total financial support required totals USD 71,900,000, in additional to technical and capacity building support.

19 In some of the analysed pathways, the energy sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

2030 NDC

Malaysia’s overall NDC is equivalent to an increase of 8% above 2015 levels by 2030 (or 349 MtCO₂e/yr when excluding LULUCF).17

2050 Ambition

Malaysia is currently developing its Long term Low Emissions Development Strategy.1 1.5°C compatible pathways would require Malaysia to reduce GHG emissions, when excluding LULUCF, by 85-90% below 2015 levels by 2050.18 With its historical net LULUCF emissions of 127 MtCO₂e from 2001 to 2020 and projected sinks under BAU up to -227 MtCO₂e/yr, Malaysia will need to implement stringent deforestation policies to reach net zero GHG.2,19


A key opportunity for decarbonisation is through scaling up renewable power and ‘sector coupling’ – that is, electrifying buildings, transport and industry. Policies are also required to tackle waste emissions, particularly from palm oil mill effluent.



  • A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require Malaysia to reduce its power sector’s emissions intensity by 74-79% from 2019 level by 2030. The energy sector contributes 75% of Malaysia’s emissions, with the lion’s share (30%) coming from the power sector.
  • Malaysia has 2.8 GW of coal capacities in its pipeline, scheduled to replace decommissioned coal capacity.4 These plans stand in contrast with the need to phase out coal by 2035, followed by a phase-out of gas by around 2035 to 2038. Instead, the government should invest in renewable energy alternatives to avoid risks of stranded assets, high costs and carbon lock in to reach 72-76% share of renewables in its energy generation.
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  • Malaysia building sector consumes 14% of the total energy and 53% of electricity. Since 2005 energy consumption of the building sector has increased at a rate of 3.4% annually.
  • All analysed scenarios see a rapid decline in direct CO₂ emissions from the building sector reaching 2-2.5 MtCO₂/yr by 2030 from 2019 level of 3.5 MtCO₂/yr, and fully decarbonised by 2049-2052.
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  • While Malaysia’s transport sector is currently completely dependent on oil (98% in 2020), 1.5°C compatible pathways show rapid electrification of the sector, with electricity share of 2-11% by 2030 and up to 56% by 2050.
  • Government has introduced tax incentives to boost the uptake of electric vehicles.
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  • The industry sector accounts for the second largest share of primary energy demand with 28% in 2017. Primary energy demand in industry is heavily dominated by fossil fuels, at 65% in 2020.
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways indicate that the share of electricity in the industry energy mix should increase by 25-35% by 2030 and 60-73% by 2050.
  • While the share of industrial process emissions was 9% of total emissions in 2019 all 1.5°C pathways show a declining trend of process emissions from 2020.
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