Charting a clean and sustainable future for Malaysia

To achieve that goal, it requires a whole-of-nation approach 

TMR FILE PIX

GLOBALLY, extreme weather associated with global warming are causing catastrophes on a massive scale. Even Malaysia is not spared, with severe floods occurring in Sabah, Sarawak, and the northern and east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, leading thousands to be evacuated from their homes and sadly, loss of lives. 

Around the world, heat waves killed hundreds in the Pacific northwest in the US and smashed records around the world. Wildfires fuelled by heat and drought swept away entire towns in the US and Greece, driving Greeks to flee their homes by ferry. 

Greenland’s sheet of land-ice continues to melt and raise sea levels, as the oceans warm and expand. Devastating floods hit Germany and Turkey. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released their 6th Assessment Report on Climate Change, and the outlook is bleak, if we do not achieve net-zero emissions globally by 2050. 

One thing, however, is certain from the report — it is undeniable that human influence is causing climate change, where our activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, have warmed the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land. 

Malaysia faces significant climate risks in the long term, with low-lying coastlines becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea levels. Extreme weather patterns are also increasingly threatening basic necessities like our water and food security, public health, as well as resources that support our economy including the infrastructure we have invested into. 

In 2015, the global community came together to agree to limit global warming to 1.5°C via the Paris Agreement. 

To achieve this, all countries must act towards reducing their emissions, and 127 countries have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. Without immediate steep emissions cuts, average temperature increment could pass 2°C by the end of the century. 

In light of the dire need to reduce emissions, WWF Malaysia and the Boston Consulting Group have undertaken an independent study on the potential net-zero pathways for Malaysia. 

The study aims to showcase an optimal net-zero pathway for the country by 2050 and identify the necessary policy framework and interventions needed to achieve this. 

Based on the scope and depth of analysis, we are confident that this independent report will provide guidance for corporations to transition away from carbon-intensive activities.

To chart a clean and sustainable future for Malaysia requires a whole-of-nation approach. Increasingly, major corporations are adopting a sustainability angle in their investments and financial reporting.

These investments are driven by a progressive sustainability agenda, which we can and should capitalise on. 

In addition, many of Malaysia’s key trading partners such as China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union have now declared net-zero ambitions, and we will likely see more countries pursuing a similar ambition in the near future. 

As a responsible member of the global community, Malaysia is at a turning point in our climate journey. 

Charting the right course of action against global warming, such as leveraging on the country’s rich natural capital, provides us with a vital opportunity to protect our environment, reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time create a competitive advantage. If we are slow to act, our country runs the risk of falling behind, ultimately losing its attractiveness as a destination for international investment and multinational organisations.

Climate transition also creates tremendous opportunities for Malaysia’s economy and society. Opportunities exist both in new low emission growth sectors for the economy and the natural assets the country has through forests and natural biodiversity. We have the potential to create long term competitive advantage and benefits by proactively acting on climate change. 

The IPCC’s most optimistic scenario describes a world where global carbon dioxide emissions are cut to net-zero around the year 2050. 

Here, societies switch to more sustainable practices, with focus shifting from economic growth to overall well-being. 

Nonetheless, it requires a high level of ambition and stronger commitment in terms of emissions removal and protection of natural climate change solutions — based on the conservation, restoration and management of forests — for the world to align to this optimistic scenario. 

As the late conservationist John Muir aptly said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the world”. 

To achieve the best-case scenario and restore our planet’s health requires all of our efforts. Together, we can prevent the coming disasters of climate change, nature loss and environmental destruction. 

  • WWF Malaysia
  • The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.