June 7, 2023
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Under Anwar, Malaysia can ‘do better’ on climate, using global funds

 – To assist Malaysia head off frequent floods and choking air air pollution brought on by forest fires, new Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim ought to faucet extra global inexperienced funding to guard nature and sort out the results of warming, local weather change consultants say.

Ending a decades-long wait to steer the Southeast Asian nation, largely dominated by one coalition since independence, Mr. Anwar, 75, fashioned a authorities with rival political blocs after final November’s election, hampered by flooding, produced a hung parliament.

Thus far, Mr. Anwar has centered on corruption and the rising value of dwelling however has mentioned little on how he’ll bolster Malaysia‘s inexperienced credentials – other than merging the vitality and pure assets ministry with the surroundings and water ministry.

“It’s still early days … (but) I am hopeful the Anwar government can be much more proactive on the climate and biodiversity agenda,” mentioned Meena Raman, president of Pals of the Earth Malaysia.

“Recognizing the climate emergency, recognizing the importance of adaptation and loss and damage – there is a lot that can be done,” she mentioned in an interview.

She urged the brand new authorities, for instance, to curb flooding not simply by constructing gray infrastructure like drainage tunnels, but additionally by channeling cash into conservation and restoration of upstream forest and wetlands.

Like many nations within the area, Malaysia is hit often by the impacts of utmost climate and rising temperatures – whether or not choking haze linked to regional forest fires, water shortages, droughts or extreme floods.

Flooding that began in late 2021 induced almost $1.5 billion in losses and displaced greater than 120,000 individuals.

In the meantime, regardless of being one of many world’s 17 nations with mega-rich biodiversity, Malaysia can be a significant producer of palm oil, timber and timber merchandise – which many environmentalists have blamed for top deforestation charges.

Whereas chalking up a fifth yr of declines in forest losses in 2021, Malaysia nonetheless ranked ninth among the many prime nations for tropical deforestation, based on Global Forest Watch.

Henry Chan, head of conservation at WWF-Malaysia, mentioned the federal government ought to search to develop the nation’s pure assets sustainably – or threat dropping them.

“Let’s strengthen current political resolve and commit to meet our net-zero and other climate and biodiversity targets,” he urged.


Though Malaysia typically suffers monsoon-season flooding – which forests can assist mitigate – local weather change and the surroundings had been largely absent in final yr’s election.

Voters had been extra involved with the economic system, healthcare, political stability, corruption and the price of dwelling.

But, regardless of COVID-19 and up to date political turmoil, Malaysia was amongst greater than 140 nations pledging to halt deforestation by 2030 on the 2021 UN local weather summit in Glasgow.

It additionally endorsed a landmark global deal to spice up nature safety agreed final December.

Pals of the Earth’s Raman mentioned price range pressures from the financial impacts of the pandemic and inflation meant Malaysia ought to make an even bigger push to entry worldwide inexperienced funding to assist bankroll its local weather motion.

After the extreme floods in late 2021, for instance, Malaysia sought $3 million from the donor-backed Inexperienced Local weather Fund to develop a nationwide plan to adapt to local weather change.

Malaysia has a aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and the earlier authorities’s 2022 price range earmarked 100 million ringgit ($23 million) to assist states shield forests and marine areas, up from 70 million ringgit beforehand.

Ms. Raman mentioned higher monetary incentives had been wanted for states whose economies largely rely on plantations of crops like durian, to assist them stem forest loss.

Malaysia needs to do much more – it can do better in many (climate) fields,” she added.

The prime minister’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.


Renard Siew, a local weather change advisor on the Centre for Governance and Political Research, a Malaysian think-tank, mentioned many native inexperienced teams welcomed the short choice to merge the pure assets and surroundings ministries.

The transfer will consolidate work and make dealing with environmental points simpler, he famous.

Many environmentalists additionally now hope the federal government will usher in a “Climate Change Act” together with a nationwide technique for local weather adaptation, first proposed in 2018 however sidelined amid political turmoil after 2020.

“(An act) would be a game-changer as it reaffirms the country’s steadfast commitment to delivering on climate action,” Siew mentioned.

Nur Sakeenah Omar, a campaigner at Greenpeace Malaysia, mentioned Anwar, who this month visited neighboring Indonesia on his first abroad journey as chief, must also introduce a clear air or transboundary haze air pollution act.

As an opposition chief because the Nineteen Nineties, Anwar had a report of highlighting points linked to local weather change – together with flooding, deforestation and air air pollution – in each the media and parliament, based on Greenpeace Malaysia.

In mid-2021, he pointed to unlawful logging in protected areas as an element contributing to flooding in rural Kedah state, calling for higher monitoring, after a authorities minister described the floods as an “act of God”.

WWF-Malaysia‘s Chan urged the brand new authorities to focus on defending nature and implementing commitments made at worldwide local weather and biodiversity summits.

The coalition’s political events should additionally fulfil their election guarantees on the surroundings, he mentioned.

“The new government provides us with an opportunity to reset our broken relationship with the natural world,” he added.

“We have an opportunity now to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet.” – Reuters

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