Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Transforming solid waste management

Thursday, December 31st, 2020
Associate Professor Dr Wan Mohd Faizal Wan Ishak Associate Professor Dr Wan Mohd Faizal Wan Ishak

BACHOK: Malaysia requires a transformation in its national solid waste management policy as the current system requires improvement.

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan Faculty of Biochemistry and Technology (FBKT) lecturer Associate Professor Dr Wan Mohd Faizal Wan Ishak said this was reflected in the Auditor-General’s Report Series 1, which found areas of non-compliance with Key Performance Indicators for landfill operations and leachate treatment plants.

In the report, solid waste disposal management at landfills and incineration plants under the supervision of the National Solid Waste Management Department and the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation was found to be less efficient and effective, posing a risk to the environment.

Faizal said the problems arose because solid waste which should have been processed by the four approved incinerator plants was sent elsewhere due to a delay in installation of three of those plants.

He said the reasons quoted by contractors were that the equipment used relied on technology imported from abroad, which had resulted in delivery delays and changing costs.

“We do not know the extent to which the technology is being studied, the suitability of local solid waste which has different characteristics compared with the country of origin of the incinerator, and related problems due to maintenance, high energy usage and secondary pollution.

“The use of sanitary landfilling is relatively outdated and conventional. The high amount of rainfall will cause the production of leachate, which will pollute the surrounding areas and enter the groundwater.

“The slow decay process produces a foul odour and this causes the surrounding area to be shunned by the population.

“This can indirectly cause the value of the land or housing there to fall sharply, because many are not willing to inhabit the surrounding area.”

Faizal was of the opinion that various methods can be used for solid waste management, depending on the end goal.

“If we consider solid waste as a useful raw material, if processed well, it can give good returns. Among the final products we get are methane gas, compost and some other materials, depending on the composition of the waste.

“Using incinerator technology requires very high initial expenditure, and the high water composition in this solid waste requires high energy. Technology like this cannot be developed comprehensively in Malaysia, causing us to depend on foreign countries. The cost to operate this system is also high and the energy generated by this incinerator cannot sustain its operating energy.”

Although incinerators have been successfully used in foreign countries, this does not necessarily mean that it can be implemented here due to the difference in the solid waste composition.

“The lack of data for the composition of solid waste will make it difficult for incinerator suppliers to produce specifications that are suitable for our country’s use,” Faizal said.

The production of methane gas from solid waste also requires a large infrastructure because the leachate material and foul smell will still be produced.

According to Faizal, the current waste segregation campaign has yet to show results and this process needs to be further streamlined to achieve its implementation goals.

“There is no point in isolating at the source if all the rubbish is eventually dumped in the same place, without making choices for its disposal,” he said.

He suggested that a drastic change be made in the country’s solid waste management methods, using biotechnology to process solid waste either on a large or small scale and which does not require a large expenditure.

He said solid waste management can be implemented in every housing estate or village by providing small scale infrastructure, while leachate can be avoided or drained back and processed together with the solid waste to prevent odour pollution.

“The resulting compost can be used for agriculture with minor addition of minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium according to the suitability of the crop. It is a simple, fast and secure process which brings many benefits at a very low cost.

“This method, using biotechnology, can be developed by FBKT using local expertise that is suitable as a community project.”

By New Straits Times,

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/12/653392/transforming-solid-waste-management

Heavy rain, high winds alert issued for several states

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
NSTP file pic. For illustration purposes only.NSTP file pic. For illustration purposes only.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) today issued a yellow level alert weather warning of heavy rains for several states, from tomorrow until Jan 2.

Its director-general Jailan Simon, in a statement, said that the weather warning in Sabah involves the interior, West Coast and Kudat (Kota Marudu) and Labuan, effective tomorrow until Thursday.

He said a similar warning was also issued for Terengganu (Marang, Dungun and Kemaman), Pahang (Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin) and Johor (Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi) from Thursday to Saturday.

The warning, he said, was also issued for Kelantan and Terengganu (Besut, Setiu, Kuala Nerus, Hulu Terengganu and Kuala Terengganu) from Friday to Saturday.

“During that period, strong winds can occur in coastal areas of east coast states of the Peninsula and Sabah.

“Most areas of west coast states of the Peninsula and west Sarawak are expected to experience thunderstorms, heavy rains and strong winds, especially in the evening until early at night.

“This has the potential of causing flash floods in low-lying areas and damage to structures which are not firm,” he said.

Jailan said strong northeast winds of 40 to 50 km per hour, with waves reaching 3.5 metres, are expected to occur in the waters of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Sabah during the period.

“This incident can pose a risk of overflow of seawater on the coast and estuaries in the areas involved,” he said.

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/12/653051/heavy-rain-high-winds-alert-issued-several-states

Mega UN meetings may herald ’super’ year for nature

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020
Courtesy handout picture taken on November 12, 2019 and recently released by Venezuelan researcher and documentary maker Jose Manuel Romero for its first publication showing a view of the Humboldt Glacier partially covered with snow, at the National Park Sierra Nevada of Merida, Merida State, in the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. - The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has scheduled its 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, a summit that will serve as a de facto deadline for countries to increase their 2030 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. (Photo by Jose Manuel Romero / Jose Manuel Romero / AFP) Courtesy handout picture taken on November 12, 2019 and recently released by Venezuelan researcher and documentary maker Jose Manuel Romero for its first publication showing a view of the Humboldt Glacier partially covered with snow, at the National Park Sierra Nevada of Merida, Merida State, in the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. – The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has scheduled its 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, a summit that will serve as a de facto deadline for countries to increase their 2030 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. (Photo by Jose Manuel Romero / Jose Manuel Romero / AFP)

TWO United Nations (UN) mega meetings on biodiversity and climate change next year are expected to set new targets and reaffirm old pledges.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has scheduled its 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, a summit that will serve as a de facto deadline for countries to increase their 2030 goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Meanwhile, talks are underway on revised global targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), scheduled for agreement in Kunming, China, at the 15th meeting of the convention’s member nations (COP15).

The Covid-19 pandemic had upended these critical meetings originally scheduled for fall, 2020. Notwithstanding those delays, towards the end of this year, we saw many activities that help prepare a strong foundation for progress next year.

In the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September and the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement on Dec 12, significant new commitments to climate action were made by high-emitting countries like China and from leading subnational actors like California.

United States President-elect Joe Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and restoring American climate and environmental leadership. In the nature arena, the UN Summit on Biodiversity, on Sept 30, underlined the need to establish a successful and ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the CBD’s COP15.

Like the Paris accord, such an agreement will contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and put the global community closer to realising its agreed Vision for Biodiversity, “Living in harmony with nature”, by 2050.

During the virtual summit, leaders expressed concern that while many of the 60 elements within the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in 2010 were achieved, no target was fully met worldwide by this year’s deadline, with millions of hectares of forest lost since the decadal targets were agreed, and a million species now facing extinction.

In the last 50 years, vertebrate populations have declined by more than two thirds. To continue is to lose not only natural riches, but also security of food and water supplies, livelihoods and our ability to fight diseases and face extreme events.

Summit participants noted that more than half of the world’s gross domestic product — US$44 trillion — depends on nature. According to the World Economic Forum, “biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse” ranks among the top five threats facing the world today.

UNGA president Volkan Bozkir called on member states to build political momentum for a strong new framework under the CBD.

Kunming, he said, must do for biodiversity what Paris did for climate change in 2015, elevating discourse on the subject to mainstream society and placing it firmly on the political agenda.

Many summit participants pointed to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, signed to date by 92 countries and the European Union, as a promising sign of gathering momentum for an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Signatories commit their nation to a transition to sustainable production and consumption, mainstreaming biodiversity, ending environmental crimes and strengthening implementation. The High Ambition Coalition, led by Costa Rica and France, called for the protection of 30 per cent of the planet by 2030, with a similar target for oceans advocated by the Global Oceans Alliance.

However, the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is missing the signatures of leaders from megadiverse countries, including Australia, the US, China, Brazil, India and Asean members. Some suggested this is due to the pandemic, but it may also be because the issue remains a hidden crisis.

Its direct and irrefutable links to the pandemic, with stark warnings of more to come more frequently, are not yet widely recognised or appreciated. Covid-19, like Zika, Ebola and the human immunodeficiency virus, is just the latest in a series of infectious diseases that originate from animal populations under environmental pressure. Experts say 60 per cent of such illnesses originate this way.

After all we have been through this year, we cannot allow another pandemic to happen before accepting the warnings and activating the political will required to create adequate, science-based protections of nature and avert a comparable catastrophe.

That’s why, with the two UN meetings next year, it is hoped they will herald a “super” year for nature.

The writer is former chairman of CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, ambassador and science adviser to the Campaign for Nature, and a senior fellow of Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/653079/mega-un-meetings-may-herald-super-year-nature

Towards less waste, pollution in 2021

Sunday, December 20th, 2020
Our environment can be made greener, open spaces and recreational parks made more accessible to the public. - NSTP/ROSMAN SHAMSUDINOur environment can be made greener, open spaces and recreational parks made more accessible to the public. – NSTP/ROSMAN SHAMSUDIN

LETTERS: There always comes a tipping point when actions and effort pile up. To stop the waters of a river swelling in a river, a release has to be made. This will prevent major flooding, crop and property destruction.

Such a buildup can happen in politics, administration, power and water supply or pollution, rubbish collection, the economy and also in pent up anxiety rage and anger. The release consists in transforming them into less harmful or useful influences or to remove them completely.

This has to be done by the very people who created them. If they are unable to do it, experts have to be brought in. The tragedy is that those who created them do not often know how to remove them.

Every aspect of human life has been pushed to the tipping point. A look around clearly shows this. We are ravaged by scandals, political adventurism, power supply, water supply disruptions, water pollution, air pollution, food supply and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.  The virus has claimed so many lives and every day the figures sometimes go higher. Though there is some hope through a vaccine, some remain unconvinced, leading to anxiety, fear and anger. This can lead to new tipping points.

Yet there is something we can still do as individuals. We can give a lot of thought on what we want to do. Will our actions worsen the situation? Will they create new tipping points? Our actions need to be correct in thought, word and deed.

Actions should benefit ourselves and others. The truth of the matter is that we have lost control over our affairs. But all is not lost. Personal efforts when matched by official intervention could flatten the rise of tipping points to manageable levels.

We can plan things better. Work and leisure combined in our lives. A clean and healthy environment, free from air and water pollution. Help plants, crops and animals grow and live better.

Our environment can be made greener, open spaces and recreational parks made more accessible to the public. We need open spaces to improve our mental health. Most important of all, we can strive to become a caring and loving community.

The earth enriched gives in return plenty, there will be no shortage of food and other necessities. Our needs will be modest causing little waste and pollution. Let us work towards this. We can make it a challenge and commitment for the New Year.

by M P PRABHAKAR.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/12/650969/towards-less-waste-pollution-2021

MetMalaysia warns of heavy rain in several states

Sunday, December 20th, 2020
For illustration purposes only. -- NSTP File PixFor illustration purposes only. — NSTP File Pix

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) issued a yellow-level weather alert, with heavy rain expected in several areas in Terengganu, Pahang and Sabah until Monday.

MetMalaysia director-general Jailan Simon said the bad weather was expected to hit Hulu Terengganu, Dungun and Kemaman, Terengganu; Kuantan, Pahang until tomorrow while heavy rain has been forecast for Sipitang, Tenom, Beaufort and Nabawan in Sabah, until Monday.

“During that period, there may be strong winds at coastal areas in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

“Thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds are expected in most states on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, namely Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor,” he said in a statement here.

Jailan said the interior of Pahang (Cameron Highlands, Lipis, Raub, and Bera) as well as western Sabah and Sarawak are also expected to experience similar weather conditions which have the potential to cause flash floods in low-lying areas and damage to unstable structures.

He said strong northeasterly winds of 40 to 50 kilometres per hour, with waves up to 3.5 metres high, are expected in the waters of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, eastern Johor, Sarawak and Sabah during the period.

“This can result in overflowing in coastal areas and estuaries in the affected areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jailan said a tropical depression which was detected at latitude 8.9 north and longitude 120.6 east was expected to move towards the west at a speed of 15 km per hour.

The condition could cause heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas in Sabah waters, he added.

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/12/650790/metmalaysia-warns-heavy-rain-several-states

Our debt to UK naturalists, traditional knowledge

Saturday, December 19th, 2020
A file photo showing a forest reserve in Kedah. -- NSTP File Pix (For illustration purposes only) A file photo showing a forest reserve in Kedah. — NSTP File Pix (For illustration purposes only)

THE importance of nature and nature-based solutions to overcome biodiversity loss and climate change has never been higher on our global agenda. And Malaysia’s treasure trove of natural assets is second to none.

British High Commissioner, Charles Hay, who has been here for nearly two years and speaks Malay, is very well-versed in our natural attractions. Last week, he launched the Malaysian Nature Tours programme in the context of the 2021 “Super Year for Biodiversity and Climate Change”, during which major world summits will be held on both topics.

Malaysia’s natural endowments include our vast rainforests and pristine marine areas, rich in plant and animal species, some found nowhere else on Earth. We are one of the world’s 12 most megadiverse countries.

The wonder of Malaysia’s flora and fauna is the multibillion-year product of natural selection, a theory attributed to naturalist Charles Darwin. However, what most people do not know is that another British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, also deserves credit for the theory.

Born in Wales in 1823, Wallace has been described as a naturalist, a geographer and a social critic. Like Darwin, Wallace travelled the world, observing and collecting samples of species. He travelled to Brazil and the Malay Archipelago that make up modern-day Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, amassing thousands of specimens of insects, birds and other animals.

After four years in Brazil, Wallace fell ill and started back to England. But 26 days into the voyage, his ship caught fire and sank in the Atlantic ocean. Through the greatest of luck, Wallace, his team and the ship’s crew were picked up by a passing ship after 10 days adrift. But, all of Wallace’s notes and samples were lost at sea.

Despite this setback, Wallace set off on another Southeast Asia voyage in 1854 to collect more samples. By1855, his observations led him to the conclusion that living things change over long periods of time — they evolve. However, he could not explain how or why. Then, in 1858, still in Southeast Asia, he fell ill again. Wracked with fever, he suffered hallucinations, but when the fever broke, the answer came to him — species evolve by adapting to their environment.

Wallace knew Darwin was working on similar research. In 1858, he wrote to Darwin, outlining his ideas. They collaborated on a scientific paper discussing their evidence for natural selection and evolution.

In 1859, Darwin published On the Origin of Species , his theory on natural selection for a broader audience. It became known as Darwin’s theory. Sadly, Wallace’s considerable contributions to the study of evolution have not achieved the same historic acclaim.

In Malaysia, it is a point of pride that our region has long been, and continues to be, of intense interest for naturalists’ and other scientists’ fieldwork.

It is no coincidence that one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Merdeka Award is the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), established by the Royal Society in 1985, based in the Danum Valley, Sabah. SEARRP facilitates world-class scientific research that addresses major environmental issues facing the tropics: plantation development, habitat restoration and climate change.

Over the last 30 years, SEARRP scientists have vastly improved our understanding of rainforests, their conservation, restoration and sustainable management. Their mission also includes training and mentoring the next generation of scientists and conservation leaders, informing policy and best practices at local, regional and global levels.

While appreciating the British scientists’ contributions to the our natural history, one must not forget those of the Malays and their many original scientific insights. This is well documented in a classic 1935 book by I.H. Burkill, Dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula, widely acknowledged as “a work of great scholarship by one of the world’s leading ethnobotanists” and “a masterpiece of condensation of a vast fund of knowledge and experience”.

But this writer could not agree more with the astute and legendary Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid (whose recent passing we greatly mourn), who noted that much of Burkill’s information must come from traditional knowledge kept by kampung and indigenous people.

It is gratifying to see that today, in our quest to conserve biodiversity and use its components in a sustainable manner, appreciation of indigenous knowledge and leadership is being acknowledged in an ever-expanding range of ways and forums.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/650596/our-debt-uk-naturalists-traditional-knowledge

Habib releases Zoo Negara-themed limited edition gold wafers

Friday, December 18th, 2020
Habib Group’s executive director Datin Seri Zarida Noordin (centre) said for each gold wafer piece sold, RM5 will be donated to Zoo Negara. With her are Deputy President Zoo Negara Zoo Negara, Rosly Ahmat Lana (right) and Miss Habib 2020, Neha Verma (left). - NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD. Habib Group’s executive director Datin Seri Zarida Noordin (centre) said for each gold wafer piece sold, RM5 will be donated to Zoo Negara. With her are Deputy President Zoo Negara Zoo Negara, Rosly Ahmat Lana (right) and Miss Habib 2020, Neha Verma (left). – NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD.

KUALA LUMPUR: Leading Malaysian jeweller, Habib Jewels has released limited-edition gold wafers collection in support of Zoo Negara.

The animal-themed gold wafer collection comes in six different designs featuring Zoo Negara’s iconic animals namely the mouse deer (kancil), panda, Malayan tiger, hornbill, elephant and the orang utan.

Habib Group’s executive director Datin Seri Zarida Noordin said for each gold wafer piece sold, RM5 will be donated to Zoo Negara.

The collection of six 999 gold wafers was launched at the ‘Habib for Zoo Negara, Save Our Animals’ event held at the National Zoo today (Dec 18).

“The gold wafers come individually packed, the price at RM 118 each or can be bought in a set of six which comes with a special packaging at all Habib outlets.

“In this way, Malaysians too can show their support for our beloved zoo while having a keepsake to bring home that showcases our treasured zoo encapsulated in 999 gold.

“To show our love and support for Zoo Negara, we will be donating a minimum of RM50,000 to the zoo to support the care of its wildlife and upkeep of their supporting facilities,” she said during the launch.

Zoo Negara, which depends on ticket sales to generate income, took a huge financial hit when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in March.

With the zoo needing an average of RM1 million a month to keep operations running, the management was forced to dip into its emergency funds to ensure that the animals were fed and cared for, and staff wages were paid.

It was given a reprieve in June when the reduced number of cases led to the relaxation of the MCO and subsequent shift into the Recovery MCO period, which enabled the zoo to welcome visitors.

Due to the surge in cases in Klang Valley in the last two months, CMCO was implemented by the government forcing the zoo to close its doors again.

By Teh Athira Yusof.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/12/650531/habib-releases-zoo-negara-themed-limited-edition-gold-wafers

Make wise choices to minimise environmental impact

Thursday, December 17th, 2020
Coffee is a favourite drink of many as 38 per cent of employees who claim that they cannot go through a day at work without coffee, while 30 per cent of employees state that coffee increases the focus and productivity of their work.  - NSTP file pic

Coffee is a favourite drink of many as 38 per cent of employees who claim that they cannot go through a day at work without coffee, while 30 per cent of employees state that coffee increases the focus and productivity of their work. – NSTP file pic

AS humans, consumption of goods is inevitable. Most of the time, we will neither be able to resist nor refuse using certain goods even if they are not really necessary. Thus, we have to make choices in what to use or consume.

However, do you know that the choices we make determine the quality of our environment? Have you ever wondered if you have made the right choice for the wellbeing of this universe?

In reality, our choices, from the smallest to the largest, have certain impacts on the environment. Let us start with our selection of drinks during breakfast. Many of us like to drink coffee in the morning.

A study by Marc Inc, a coffee company in the United States with its coffee brand, Alterra Coffee, in 2011 showed that 65 per cent of employees drink coffee in the office, with an average of three cups a day.

Coffee is a favourite drink of many as 38 per cent of employees who claim that they cannot go through a day at work without coffee, while 30 per cent of employees state that coffee increases the focus and productivity of their work.

For coffee lovers, they can choose from americano, long black, espresso or coffee with a mixture of milk such as latte, macchiato, cappuccino and flat white. There are many other variations available.

These diverse options have different environmental impacts that could be identified in various ways. One is by looking at the carbon footprint — a concept that focuses on the amount of greenhouse gas, especially carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere as a result of various forms of human activity.

It is common knowledge that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and in turn, bring intense climate change issues, which is a major concern of the present world society.

Coffee production as a whole has huge environmental impact as 82 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions occur at the coffee plantation stage; 12 per cent of gas emissions are due to water heating during the coffee preparation process while, the selection of coffee, with or without milk, shows varying carbon footprint.

Coffee with milk, particularly cow’s milk, indicates a higher carbon footprint. Poore and Nemecek’s (2018) study on the effects of food production on the environment shows that to produce 200ml of cow’s milk, more land and water resources are needed than to produce soy, oat or almond milk.

Carbon dioxide emissions in cow’s milk production are also higher than plant-based milk, which reaches 0.6kg per 200ml of cow’s milk.

Based on the above explanation, it is clear that we need to make wise choices of drinks as it will have different environmental impacts.

However, this is not only about what we choose to drink in the morning, but include other types of consumption too.

For example, the difference can be seen when we choose between consuming beef or chicken, travelling by public transport or car, buying a small or large car and numerous other options. Hence, making wise choices is vital to minimise environmental impacts.

Most of the time, we are served with a variety of choices and thus, the process of making a choice or decision should be natural for every individual.

What is the basis for making wise choices in life?

This, of course, has to do with knowledge and it is essential to seek knowledge that will motivate us to make environmental-friendly choices.

The knowledge gained should be an important factor that leads to virtuous human action and behavioural changes. In Islam, the purpose of acquiring knowledge is mainly to bring us close to
Allah SWT and to make us a better Muslim.

In terms of the human relations to nature, knowledge is vital to better understand the environment and make choices with minimal impact on the environment. Islam educates us to be responsible for every choice we make.

With that, make a choice based on knowledge and practise what we have learnt. If this is the tenet of every human being, then the hope of seeing the quality of the environment get better and preserved may come true.

By Azrina Sobian.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/650016/make-wise-choices-minimise-environmental-impact

Reset balance with green recovery efforts

Monday, December 14th, 2020
Malaysia is also facing the adverse effects of climate change and remains vulnerable to the threat of floods, landslides, haze and water pollutions.- NSTP/MOHD RAFI MAMAT.Malaysia is also facing the adverse effects of climate change and remains vulnerable to the threat of floods, landslides, haze and water pollutions.- NSTP/MOHD RAFI MAMAT.

While it’s crucial to provide social safety nets for vulnerable communities to cope with temporary economic shocks, Malaysia also cannot afford to lose sight of environmental sustainability due to the ongoing threat of climate change.

As heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) to the atmosphere continues to increase, it does not only result in rising average temperature by over 1 degree Celsius, but also leads to heatwaves, droughts and torrential rains, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas and floods.

Malaysia is also facing the adverse effects of climate change and remains vulnerable to the threat of floods, landslides, haze and water pollutions. Up till Aug 2018, Malaysia has experienced 51 natural disaster events in the last two decades where 281 people died, over 3 million people were affected, causing nearly US$2 billion (RM8 billion) in damages.

A recent Pew Research Centre’s International Science Survey 2019-20 showed that around seven in 10 Malaysians place more priority on environmental protection, even if it comes at the expense of economic growth and the creation of more job opportunities.

The latest HSBC survey also revealed more than nine out of 10 Malaysian businesses agreed the need to re-assess or review operations to rebuild business on firmer environmental foundations.

However, it is relatively challenging for Malaysia to move towards green recovery as according to the Green Economy Tracker, over 90 per cent electricity comes from fossil fuels. Nevertheless, it is applaudable the current administration is committed towards green recovery – advocating sustainable development agenda in the Budget 2021 for the first time.

Among the initiatives, include:

1. Cooperate with the UN to establish the Malaysia-SDG Trust Fund or MySDG Trust Fund to coordinate financing from various sources to ensure the SDG is achieved by 2030;

2. Issue first Sustainability Bond in Malaysia for environmental and social initiatives in 2021;

3. Further encourage issuance of Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) products and bonds that achieve green, social and sustainable standards in Malaysia, the existing income tax exemption for SRI green sukuk grant is extended to all types of sukuk and bonds until 2025;

4. Continue Green Technology Financing Scheme 3.0 up to 2022 which will be guaranteed by Danajamin to encourage the issuance of SRI sukuk;

5. Provide RM40 million over five years to strengthen environmental quality monitoring enforcement activities including the establishment of 30 monitoring stations nationwide;

6. Increase allocation under the Economic, Infrastructure and Welfare Development-Based Grants (TAHAP) to State Governments to RM400 million of which RM70 million allocated for the purpose of Ecological Fiscal Transfer Activities, an additional incentive to the State Government to ensure sustainability of the country’s biodiversity; and

7. Implement mangrove tree planting programmes to preserve mangrove swamp areas and other tree species along the coast including Tanjung Piai, Johor and Kuala Sepetang, Perak.

To align the latest development and future needs, the government should review existing policies and legislations such as National Forestry Policy 1978 (Revised 1992), National Forestry Act 1984, National Policy on the Environment 2002 and National Water Resources Policy 2012. Strong enforcement of regulations can ensure wider compliance to environmental standards.

The government could also encourage industrial players to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels by providing small grants towards building a more sustainable green future while education on sustainable development has to be implemented in schools, institutions of higher education and teacher training centres to promote a better understanding of environmental issues.

Moreover, the government needs to support sustainable infrastructure and reimagine sustainable cities that are fit-for-purpose in the post-Covid-19 world, including encouraging low-carbon mobility and promoting the construction of green buildings.

Adopting sustainable consumption and production concept in expanding green market and better waste management towards circular economy, would reduce GHG emissions, in turn would stimulate economic regrowth, improve resource efficiency, minimise pollution and increase resilience to zoonotic threats and natural disasters.

By restoring the balance between people and planet, more green and decent jobs can be created; ecotourism and green transport systems can be formed and supply chains for green products can be generated.

With the recent call from the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres to “make peace with our planet” during the UN’s 75th anniversary on Oct 24, it is time for Malaysia to reset our development agenda by strengthening green recovery efforts while trying to save more lives and livelihoods.

By Amanda Yeo.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/649368/reset-balance-green-recovery-efforts

NST Leader: Cry, my beloved Earth

Monday, December 14th, 2020
A fountain illuminated with green light at the Omonoia square in central Athens, to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris climate accord. - AFP picA fountain illuminated with green light at the Omonoia square in central Athens, to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris climate accord. – AFP pic

PLANET Earth is broken. Climate change tells us why. It can be fixed, but not the way countries are doing it now.

Consider the case of G20 nations, a group of countries that the United Nations data say have been contributing to 78 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the last 10 years.

Or to put it in the words of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, “one per cent of the population is responsible for double the emissions of the 50 per cent poorest in the world”.

We repeat the words of the secretary-general: “This is unacceptable.”

Nations gathered in London at the “Climate Ambition Summit” on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord must have realised that the 2°C (or at best 1.5°C) agreed to by world leaders in 2015 was too high to save the planet.

Climatologists are telling us if nothing is done now, the Earth will be hotter by 3°C. Little wonder Guterres used the occasion to call on the world’s leaders to declare a climate emergency until zero emission is reached.

As this Leader goes to press, just 20 per cent of the countries in the world have declared such an emergency. New Zealand is one country which has done this. It has also done something else long before declaring such an emergency.

It has also passed a law, the Zero Carbon Act 2019, to put the country on a path to zero emission by 2050. Notwithstanding this, New Zealand is not doing enough, academics tell The Guardian, the British daily.

According to one, of the 43 industrialised countries, New Zealand is among the 12 that have seen net emissions rise between 1990 and 2018. It is one thing to declare a climate emergency, but another to do something about it.

But it is a good place to start. An emergency tells the people the dire straits the country is in. But the world isn’t just a country.

Or even a manageable few. The ratio of the recalcitrant to the obedient is an ugly one. It gets really hideous when the recalcitrant is armed to the teeth. In a galaxy of 193, all you need is one industrialised climate change denier like the United States to make the globe go helter skelter.

There are others who acknowledge climate change disasters, but they think it is a problem for others to do something about. There is yet another complication. The planet is dotted with countries which want to go the way of zero emission, but are not able to.

They lack the finance and the technology to take them there. The rich and the technologically advanced must help. Otherwise, we will all sink by degrees, centigrade by centigrade.

Sadly, even developed countries’ commitment to provide US$100 billion a year to developing countries is lagging behind badly, Guterres says.

Help with technology, too, is lacking. Without this, developing countries like the Maldives and Bangladesh will not be able to make the transition to green technology.

The choice of “ambition” as a theme for the climate summit in London at least signals how broken the planet is. But the world needs more than ambition for zero emission to work.

It needs action. And it needs it now. As it stands, not all are on board. No country will be safe until every country is.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2020/12/649163/nst-leader-cry-my-beloved-earth