Reducing climate change risks

WITH climate change possibly impacting various areas of the economy and overall wellbeing, the government will be keeping its foot on the pedal with initiatives designed to minimise any negative effects on the country while looking to generate growth, said Bank Negara in its Economic Outlook 2023 report.

The central bank noted that the possible far-reaching effects of climate change can be seen in innumerable areas, including food, water security, disaster mitigation, as well as in the tourism and agriculture industries.

“As a net food importer, Malaysia is considered as having some level of over-dependence on food and agricultural imports. As seen during Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, other countries could potentially reduce their exports, which would result in supply shocks and increased prices.

“A decrease in domestic agricultural productivity as well as import disruptions will jeopardise the country’s food security and export earnings,” it said.

Some of the obvious effects of climate change, it added, include floods and droughts occurring at varying frequencies, bringing about social and economic repercussions, and leading to losses for the country.

The report said: “For example, in 2007, the floods in Kota Tinggi caused about RM2.4bil of economic, infrastructure and agricultural losses.

“The 2014 floods that hit the nation cost the government RM1.5bil, while the floods in December 2021 cost around RM2bil for immediate disbursements, with an additional RM15bil committed to flood mitigation efforts until 2030.”

Among the initiatives enacted to better prepare the country in dealing with the potential threats of climate change are the National Policy on Climate Change and the Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategies through the 12th Malaysia Plan – which is guided by principles of sustainability – aiming to attain “net-zero” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

This year also saw the launch of the National Energy Policy 2021-2040, which aims to increase the engagement of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which produces almost no GHG, added the report, and that would work toward a cleaner and more resilient economy.

While hydropower is currently Malaysia’s highest renewable energy contributor, this source could be affected by depleting river sources.

Therefore, the effect of weather patterns must be taken into account when planning the construction of power plants for the use of hydropower.

Besides that, Bursa Malaysia’s implementation of the Voluntary Carbon Market by the end of 2022 will utilise the Verra standards to certify carbon credits traded on the platform.

The central bank said these efforts will be backed by strong initiatives from the financial sector, as the number of approved Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) funds has grown from two when it was first launched in 2018, to 56 funds as of June 2022.

In Islamic finance, Malaysia has pioneered the green sukuk and the social impact sukuk through the Securities Commission’s SRI Sukuk framework, the report said.

The issuance of the sovereign dollar-denominated Sustainability Sukuk in April 2021 was successful and the proceeds of these sukuks will be used for sustainability programmes and projects, as listed in the Government of Malaysia SDG Sukuk Framework.

Meanwhile, the Green Technology Financing Scheme was introduced in 2010 to encourage local companies and entrepreneurs to join green technology-based projects.

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