‘Let’s do our part to protect Earth’

Groups: The people and authorities must take real efforts to tackle climate crisis

PETALING JAYA: Environmental groups are calling on the public to do their part to fight climate change, following the recent haze and fires in the region that are exacerbating the global crisis.

Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia president Andrew Sebastian said adopting a less car-dependent mindset would be a great first personal step.

“Cutting down on individual car usage whenever possible would be a good start as car emissions are a large contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change.

“The public should always consider alternative routes, either using public transport or carpooling with friends, or even cycling short distances, as well as planning ahead when they go somewhere, especially if they aren’t in a rush.

“While it may be more time consuming, the reduction in released greenhouse gases would be very significant if everyone were to develop the same mindset,” he said.

He also said people have to play a more active role in curbing the use of vehicles whose exhaust emits black toxic smoke.

“Vehicles like these are illegal under the Environmental Quality Regulations 1996 as the dark smoke usually contains overly concentrated amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbon fuel and nitrogen oxides that exceed regulations.

“Anyone who sees vehicles like these on the road should immediately record a video or picture of the vehicle along with its licence plate and report it to the local authorities or contact Environment Department (DOE) enforcers,” he said.

Under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 Environmental Quality (Compounding Of Offences) Rules 1978, vehicle owners can be fined up to RM2,000 if their vehicle does not comply with the regulations under the Environmental Quality Regulations 1996.

Andrew also said that cutting down on online shopping would also be effective.

“The delivery of goods whether small or large will usually result in a similar carbon footprint.

“As such, refraining from buying non-essential items impulsively and only making bulk purchases if needed would be a significant way to cut back on our carbon footprint as the delivery man would not have waste fuel to visit your home so often,” he added.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman called on the public to take a more forceful and direct approach to tackling climate change.

“Climate change must be addressed as soon as possible before its effects become irreversible.

“Therefore, the public should actively do more research about climate change, its causes, drivers and impacts on their own so that they can then better agitate and mobilise for the needed action to be taken and to hold governments at all levels to account.

“As one people, we must make demands of our ministers, politicians, lawmakers, state and local authorities to take real efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as well as measures to adapt to the climate impacts that are already here, such as heatwaves, droughts, water supply shortages and floods,” she said.

Meenakshi added that the public should also consider supporting as many civil society organisations that are tackling climate change as possible, while also pushing for environmentally- friendly changes at the local community level.

“Volunteering for forest protection or reforestation campaigns, as well as recycling campaigns, is one way to actively help fight climate change.

“On a community level, people can help by growing their own crops in agro-ecology farms to reduce their need to buy groceries, or push the adoption of renewable energy among the community, like buying their own solar panels and advocating the benefits to their neighbours,” she added.

Environment Protection Society of Malaysia executive committee member Randolph Jeremiah said the open burning around the country was also a major environmental hazard.

“All too often I see people driving or walking past open fires without even a care, like it was a daily occurrence.

“It is our public responsibility to report these fires to the relevant authorities such as the Fire and Rescue Department as soon as we notice them.

“An early response is key to controlling and limiting the impact of these fires on our environment – they can spread rapidly to nearby forest and agriculture areas in the current hot weather,” he said.

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