Urgent need for plan to tackle climate emergency

LAST month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Malaysia would pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45% across the economy by 2030, and aspire to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

But achieving this target is subject to the Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) that will be finalised by the end of 2022. We cannot wait that long because the climate catastrophe is not going to wait.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned world leaders at the opening of COP26 that: “We face a moment of truth. We are fast approaching tipping points that will trigger escalating feedback loops of global heating.”

Therefore, our government should immediately suspend all forest clearing and land reclamation projects that contribute significantly to planet-warming while waiting for the LT-LEDS to be finalised.

We signed on to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Goal 13 requires us to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by integrating mitigation measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

The date set for achieving the UN SDGs is 2030. Six years have passed and we don’t even have a low emission development plan to achieve that objective. And we have to wait another year.

The recently created Malaysia Climate Change Action Council (MyCAC) headed by the Prime Minister must act without delay to produce and implement a plan of action to address the life-threatening problems of climate emergency.

As MyCAC only meets twice a year, it must set up a task force to prepare the plan, identifying the actions to be taken and the targets to be met in different sectors.

The Federal Government, state governments and local authorities are not moving in tandem to address environmental issues. In Penang, for example, there has been strong objection to the Penang South Reclamation project, but the state government adamantly persists in proceeding with it. Despite the project’s serious violation of our commitments to the SDGs, the environmental impact assessment was approved. This highlights the failure of our environmental laws and institutions to protect our environment.

In another example, the Selangor state government decided to degazette the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve for commercial development, which would have violated our international commitments. Fortunately, public pressure led to the cancellation of the project.

Political leaders and officials at the federal, state and local authority levels must share a common vision and work together to fulfil our international commitments to sustainable development and address the climate crisis.

Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the government to:

1. Develop and implement a detailed plan with targets and timelines setting out the actions to be taken to fulfil our commitments made during COP26, and under the United Nations 17 SDGs;

2. Set up an independent body with government and civil society representatives to monitor and evaluate the performance under the plan, and identify problems in meeting the targets;

3. Stop deforestation and land reclamation of coastal areas that aggravate the climate crisis;

4. Formulate a long-term plan to shift from fossil fuel energy to clean energy in all sectors; and

5. Promote sustainable production and consumption of foods, products and services.

MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER , President Consumers’ Association of Penang

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