Govt plans to assess the need for climate change legislation

The environment and water ministry is currently revising EQA 1974 to include matters relating to climate change and sustainability


THE government is planning to do a scoping review on the need for climate change legislation to assist in protecting the environment in the near future.

Environment and Water Ministry secretary general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang (picture) said the ministry wants the draft to include private sector reporting and economic instruments.

“Soon, we are probably drafting a new Climate Change Act depending on the understanding of policymakers and demand of the people or using existing laws such as the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) 1974 together with it.

“We might also think of putting carbon tax for the future investment related to sustainability,” he said during a webinar, “The CIMB Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit 2020”, organised by CIMB Group Holdings Bhd yesterday.

Zaini said the ministry is currently revising the EQA 1974 to include matters relating to climate change and sustainability, while it also has the greenhouse gases management and reporting to be mandated.

He noted that the ministry aims for a low carbon society, while enhancing green production and consumption, and using fewer resources such as water, plastic and electricity, among others, to ensure sustainability.

Water consumption in Malaysia is among the highest in the world, with usage amounting to 230 litres per capita per day last year, from 226 litres in 2018.

“This surpassed the 160 litres per capita per day proposed by international standards. Singapore is currently using 150 litres and many parts of the world use less than 230 litres.

“The amount of consumption is not inclusive of water losses which are 35% from production. We are lavishly using materials and resources and this is not going well,” he said.

He also highlighted that the electric power stations sector topped the list for the amount of greenhouse gas emitted annually which constituted 25.6% of total emissions, followed by industrial processes (15.9%), transportation fuels (13.2%), land use and biomass burning (12.1%), agricultural production (11.6%), fossil fuel retrieval, processing and distribution (10.5%), residential, commercial and other sources (7.5%), and waste disposal and treatment (3.6%).

The ministry also aims to build 10,000km of river trail routes by 2030, which will be funded by the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and companies concerned about the environment.

He said the development is currently at 300km and he will visit several locations this week where the local community is working together with NGOs and institutions to develop the trail.

Commenting on the lack of efforts by the government to stop forests from being degazetted, Zaini said funding issues would surface as gazetted lands are state governments’ responsibility.

“What we need to understand is the role of every component in an ecosystem. Gazetting land is the responsibility of the state government and we cannot blame anyone if the land is already owned by someone else.

“At the end of the day, we will have issues related to funding. Who is going to pay to purchase the land?” he added.