This is to avoid irreversible damage to the planet and society, finance minister says
by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BLOOMBERG
THE Malaysian private sector needs to build up a climate change agenda and play an impactful role based on the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which is backed by science, data and technology, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said.
He added that promising examples had been set in the NRP that supports changes when it comes to combating climate changes and embracing a sustainable environment.
However, in terms of transitioning to a climate-resilient economy, the minister noted that no government is in a position to do all the heavy lifting on its own and the additional fiscal pressure is expected to be immense due to the cost of transition.
“In fact, climate experts have already started the conversation on net-negative emissions as reaching net-zero alone will no longer be enough.
“This entails reducing emissions in-house as much as possible, including carbon capture through both nature-based solutions and negative emissions’ technologies,” he added.
He said both public and private sectors must work together to ensure an equitable and rapid transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
“The progress we have seen in the areas of innovation, development and commercialisation of sustainable technologies during the pandemic can and should be further embraced in our daily lives.
“This is especially important as previous waves of rapid industrialisation have shown numerous negative consequences,” he said in his opening address at The Cooler Earth Sustainability Summit yesterday.
According to Tengku Zafrul, just as Covid-19 has widened the inequality gap across the world, climate change too has mostly impacted those least able to shoulder the burden.
He cited experts who have estimated that without any mitigating policies, the cumulative cost of climate change to Malaysia stands at an average of over RM400 billion a year over a period of 100 years from 2010.
“Given the gravity of the situation, transitioning into a climate-resilient economy is no longer an aspiration, but an urgency to avoid irreversible damage to our planet and society.
“We need urgent reforms and a whole-of-nation approach in addressing the threats on both fronts,” he added.
The finance minister also said there must be a transformation in the economic and financial systems, as well as sectors pertaining to food, water and energy, in a manner that is sustainable, inclusive and fair.
“We need to start pricing carbon emissions and realign more incentives towards clean energy and the circular economy, ending the free ride that industrial polluters have had over the years.
“The good news is that climate change-related goals are not only achievable, but also make for sound economic policy,” he noted.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the emphasis on green investments, like renewables, low carbon mobility and energy efficiency offer a huge opportunity, while potentially raising global GDP by 2% and creating millions of new jobs throughout the decade.
In capturing this opportunity and addressing climate-related issues, the minister said Putrajaya has made meaningful progress both at the global and domestic fronts since signing the Paris Agreement.
Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul said there is over RM300 billion worth of Covid-19 assistance still available, which will support Malaysia’s GDP which is expected to grow between 3% and 4% this year.
He said this remaining sum is a complement to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, in which Malaysia expects to fully vaccinate 100% of its adult population by the end of October.
As recovery gathers momentum, he noted that the country will be on track to achieve between 5% and 6% growth in GDP in 2022, based on the latest projections by the World Bank and the IMF.