ASTON University Malaysian Alumni celebrated its 50th year as a university with a night filled with environmental awareness.
The university’s vice-chancellor and chief executive Baroness Brown of Cambridge Julia King shared the UK’s approach to reducing carbon emissions to spread awareness about climate change.
King, who advises the UK government on climate change, said their largest proportion of emissions in 2008 was produced from power generation, largely because of their heavy reliance on coal-fired power stations, followed by domestic transport.
Initiatives to implement carbon dioxide (CO2) budgets were introduced to reduce such emissions with a target of cutting 50% in global emission by 2050 to keep rising temperatures in check.
“Transport needs a 44% reduction in emissions by 2030. This can be done through behaviour change; promoting a culture for sustainable and carbon travel options.
“In reducing CO2 emissions from a government perspective the UK has committed to setting a CO2 budget every five years; a carbon reduction framework put into legislation since 2008,” she said.
She said Malaysia could take small steps in reducing its carbon footprint and raising sustainable practices with palm oil production.
“Waste-to-energy techniques can be used to make all parts of the palm tree fully utilised.
“In terms of transportation, while public transport is being improved, people can opt for hybrid vehicles.
King added that harnessing natural renewable energy using wind turbines and other low carbon emitting energy generation methods were also an option.
On using nuclear energy as a low-carbon option, King said it was transitional technology that can be used while looking for other options.
However, she said various aspects, including the generation of toxic waste, needed to be taken into account first.
In addition to King’s talk on the UK’s approach to reducing carbon emissions, the Malaysian Chapter of Aston University Alumni Association brought together veteran members of the alumni with newly graduated members.
“Aston University has been around since 1966 and we started the alumni association in 2007 to rekindle memories of our time in the university,” said association president Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Al Amin Abdul Majid.
“It is the first time the Baroness is visiting Malaysia and this is the last leg of her tour to bring awareness around Asia. She stopped over in Beijing and Hanoi earlier,” he said.
Elaborating on King’s expertise on clean energy, he said apart from networking opportunities, the gathering also provided alumni members with key information on issues related to climate change.
It is a stance the university itself is taking in several areas from the structure of the educational institution itself, to building a culture of environmental awareness and sustainability with Aston University’s Carbon Week.