The need for carbon neutrality action plan in Malaysia


CARBON neutrality is becoming increasingly prevalent and Malaysia is at a crossroads in its climate change mitigation pathway, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

A consensus derived from the Paris Agreement, of which Malaysia is one of 195 signatories, is seen as a target that must be met cooperatively in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Carbon neutrality refers to the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions and absorption by carbon sinks like plants, seas and soil, and it is a commitment we can make not just to the planet, but also to humanity.

Carbon neutrality implies that Malaysia will need to make significant adaptations over the span of the next decade in order to avert the worst consequences of climate change that are currently taking place.

The effort is not merely a political move; rather, it is an attempt to guarantee that the global commitment to limit global warming for human survival is fulfilled.

Our country has a remarkable opportunity to protect the environment by reducing its carbon footprint. However, specific timeframes and action plans have yet to be established. 

Hence, developing carbon neutrality roadmaps is the optimal course of action to tackle global warming as part of the Paris Agreement.

To meet the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, the government will need to work on a plan that can be segmented into short-, medium- and long-term actions.

For the course of long-term action, the need for a policy that is feasible, comprehensive, yet practicable should be adopted. This initiative will need considerable financial input from a variety of sources, including funding.

An attempt to become carbon-neutral will be a major demand-driver in our economy, requiring technical advancements and socio-economic transitions like switching to renewable energy (RE), such as solar power, instead of coal and investing in carbon-absorbing initiatives such as reforestation programmes.

The government will also need to establish a cost and carbon impact scoring system to offer an idea of the magnitude of investment required and carbon savings obtained for each action taken. 

Carbon offsetting can also involve compensating for carbon emissions by financing a reduction in CO2 emissions elsewhere.

Commitment by the government and corporate sectors to reduce carbon emissions by investing in ecologically-friendly technology should also be considered to meet the aim of nearly no coal usage, significant reductions in the use of other fossil fuels and over 70% of energy output from renewable resources.

Even though Malaysia’s chances of pursuing marine RE are currently limited, its proximity to a vast ocean region makes it advantageous to have access to marine energy sources including offshore wind, tidal, underwater current and solar.

Achieving carbon neutrality before 2050 is extremely challenging and will necessitate unwavering efforts and the cooperation of the entire community. This will be the impetus for achieving the goal of carbon neutrality in the quest for sustainability.

In order to sustain transformation over the long term, it is essential to instil a carbon-neutral culture within practices and norms. This requires a critical awareness of carbon footprint reduction among the public at large.

The effective action plan must be structured in terms of sustainability policies and regarded as a dynamic piece that must be regularly updated to account for further improvement from time to time.

Without a doubt, it will take time and trial and error to uncover roadmaps to carbon neutrality and the commercial opportunities that route will offer; so, that process demands a thorough grasp of what carbon neutrality entails.

For the next 30 years, carbon neutrality will be the primary investment opportunity in RE, energy-saving and environmental protection sectors. If we are too slow to act, our country may lose its allure as a destination for international investments and businesses.

Dr Izyan Munirah Mohd Zaideen is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Maritime Studies, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, and Captain Mohd Faizal Ramli is an environmental, health and safety marine specialist in the oil and gas sector.