by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
GOVERNMENT entities must understand how climate affects their missions, and vice versa.
Deloitte Malaysia government and public services leader Kamarul Baharin said the key is to act on climate change in a way that both aligns with, and advances their mission objectives.
He said climate change will alter the operational landscape for many agencies and may compel them to rethink the entire plan.
Kamarul also stressed that acting quickly is a must, citing the recent devastating flood that hit Malaysia, which destroyed homes and disrupted the livelihood of many, as well as impaired mission readiness, resulting in thousands of lost work hours and security vulnerabilities.
Nevertheless, he said the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) tabled by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob features climate change mitigation prominently.
Deloitte Malaysia ED of risk advisory Muzafar Kamal noted that agencies need governance models that can cope with the scale, scope, and complexity of the problem.
“Before tailoring initiatives, they must look at the challenge from the outside in and define the effect they want to have on the broader world.
“To integrate climate governance actions, there also needs to be an executive champion to guide the coordination of both inter- and intra-agency efforts,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He added that as the focus on climate change increases, cities can develop governance and leadership models focused on key areas such as rising sea-level, air pollution, the availability of clean water and more.
“The government may, for example, provide tax exemption incentives, while relevant agencies can offer favourable licence rates or set up government-backed microfinancing schemes for businesses that are involved in green initiatives,” he said.
Deloitte Malaysia also emphasised that on the supply-side, agencies and multilateral organisations have historically focused on research and development (R&D) investment, but they should also encourage industries to pursue breakthrough technologies.
The research firm said on the demand side, agencies should consider the regulatory requirements, industry economics, and other hurdles that new technologies and entrants are sure to encounter to maximise the chances for successful innovation.
Meanwhile, Kamarul noted that it is not enough for the government to identify and disclose climate risks, but they also must manage the risks they identify – both the preventable and the unavoidable.
He said fortunately, new tools and techniques, such as cloud computing power and sophisticated AI/machine-learning algorithms give agencies unprecedented abilities to avoid certain climate-related risks, reduce harm when risks are unavoidable, and find the best returns for risk-reduction projects.
“For example, the use of machine learning technology, artificial intelligence and big data analysis (BDA) can help manage climate disaster-related risks, such as floods and droughts,” he added.
Additionally, Deloitte Malaysia also pointed out that progress to enhance operational sustainability will require governments to reject existing orthodoxies that tend to separate climate initiatives from the central mission.
On that note, it also highlighted that a sudden shift to a “green” economy can create uncertainty in traditional industries.
Therefore, long-term strategies to decarbonise should be accompanied by effective economic diversification strategies.
Commenting further, Deloitte Malaysia said public and private entities should build collaborative ecosystems, so that agencies can unlock shared knowledge and resources while ensuring the broader community supports their actions.
“This will require agencies to decide where it makes sense for them to lead on climate change, and where they might make a bigger impact by supporting the private sector.
“While the public sector strives to reduce carbon emissions and improve resilience through the provision of sustainable public infrastructure and funding and the introduction of stringent environmental requirements, private sectors can provide the technology and financial instruments that will be needed for city-wide climate action,” he noted.
Deloitte Malaysia said if countries choose to continue their current paths, greenhouse gas emissions will likely bring 3 to 4ºC of warming by 2100 with sea levels in Malaysia expected to rise by 0.7 metres, leading to a loss of 3,700 sq km of coastal land.
This will affect 1.5 million people, with an estimated loss of RM58 billion.
In Aug 2021, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report on climate change, giving a stark warning for governments, businesses, and society at large, to expect extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, floods, droughts, and more in the coming decade.