The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended in Madrid, Spain, and it is high time that we revisited the Malaysian milestone on the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.
Malaysia has achieved a 33 per cent carbon emission intensity of gross domestic production reduction this year relative to the 2005 levels towards the targeted 45 per cent emission cut by 2030.
This is something we should be proud of, but much effort is needed for us to reduce our carbon footprint in mitigating global warming.
Global warming is causing sea water levels to rise and it is at a tipping point with an accelerated 3.2mm rise yearly. Its effect will be greater at the tropics.
For example, seawater could rise from 1m to 2.5m in Singapore by 2100.
Global warming also causes freshwater to become scarce.
This increases microscopic algae growth, causes lethal algal/plankton blooms, decreases water quality and disrupts desalination plants.
The rise of 0.13°C in global average sea surface temperature for the past decade exacerbated ocean acidification with a disastrous impact on the ecosystem of coral reefs.
This has negative impacts on coastal marine life and our seafood supply.
Furthermore, heavy rainfalls over a short period of time are becoming more frequent.
Island cities are susceptible to storm surges and flash flooding, which affect urban dwellers.
We must stand tall among developing countries to avoid being pressured into an unfair (greenhouse gas emission) target at the expense of our economic growth.
In fact, global warming is mainly contributed by the developed countries since the Industrialisation Era.
Instead of revising to a higher target at UNFCCC in Glasgow next year, Malaysia can negotiate for monetisation on carbon trading as advocated by the government’s policy and initiatives on renewable energy.
To ensure the nation’s sustainable development, a cross-ministerial approach is essential.
The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry is the key to empower sustainable
agriculture through the integration of Fourth Industrial Revolution technology for smart farming.
The Primary Industries Ministry needs to enforce the policy on no deforestation for new oil palm plantations.
The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry plays an important role to ensure a safe environment with clean water.
The Transport Ministry has to boost public transport ridership from 20 per cent to 40 per cent by increasing connectivity through feeder buses.
The Education Ministry should inculcate environmental awareness among children through subjects, and not just Science and Civic Studies.
For such orchestrated actions of stakeholders, GreenTech Malaysia under the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry has been repurposed to become a centre with a focal point on renewable energy for mitigating climate change.
The public and private sectors are major players in ensuring the nation’s sustainable development.
Health, safety, and environment divisions of major corporations should be leveraged to be in line with the country’s vision in reducing its carbon footprint.
Corporate social responsibility programmes can include awareness on renewable energy and sustainable lifestyle through the reduce, reuse, and recycle concept.
PROFESSOR DR HOE-HAN GOH
Institute of Systems Biology,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
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