Sabah rejects proposed CCUS Bill, citing existing land laws

Carbon-negative state: Sabah is in the process of enac­ting its own carbon capture and utilisation laws as well as upda­ting the Forest Enactment 1968, including making ‘carbon’ a forest product, Kitingan said.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah agrees with the stand taken by Sarawak that the proposed Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) Bill is not necessary for the two states as they have separate land and forestry laws, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

The Sabah Deputy Minister said the CCUS, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year, has no application to the Borneo states, so it should not cover Sabah and Sarawak.

“There is a clear separation of jurisdiction constitutionally: both land and forestry matters are state matters under the State List and under the purview of the Sabah government,” he said in a statement.

Kitingan, who is the state Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister as well as chairman of the State Carbon Steering and Monitoring Cabinet Committee, said this intention was made known to the National Climate Change Council meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in Putrajaya last Friday.

He said Sabah is the first mover state to see the revenue and socio-economic opportunities arising from the global market for carbon credit.

The state has in fact signed the necessary arrangement to generate a new source of income for the state from carbon credit sales from its two million hectares of tropical forests while preserving them, he said, referring to the Nature Carbon Agreement (NCA).

“It’s not just preserving the rainforests but also providing much-needed funds and opportunities for the indigenous people in Sabah and, at the same time, complying with many of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Kitingan.

These goals include no poverty, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, protecting and promoting sustainable ecosystems and forests, and halting biodiversity loss, he said.

Kitingan added this was more relevant in Sabah, which relies heavily on the tourism industry with emphasis on its natural and pristine environment, sun, sea, nature and abundant biodiversity.

He said with its carbon credit generation programme, Sabah, although already a carbon-negative state, will further contribute to the climate change goals of Malaysia and assist the nation in achieving the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

He said Malaysia is committed to unconditionally reducing economy-wide carbon emissions by 45% in gross domestic product (GDP) in comparison to its 2005 levels.

“With its own carbon reduction programme, Sabah is well-advanced and well-positioned to take responsibility for its carbon credit potential under its own Sabah land and forestry laws, with or without the Federal Government’s proposed new CCUS laws,” he said.

Kitingan said that, as recognised by Article 1(3) of the Federal Constitution, Sabah’s land includes land under water and its boundaries, which have extended to the continental shelf since 1954.

He said the socio-economic benefits of Sabah’s carbon credit programme are in line with the state’s vision of developing the Sabah Maju Jaya Development Plan 2021–2025.

Sabah is in the process of enacting its own carbon capture and utilisation laws as well as updating the Forest Enactment 1968, including making “carbon” a forest product, he said.

“Thus, there is no necessity for the CCUS to be extended to Sarawak and Sabah,” he added.

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