|DATE||: 26 December 2021|
|PUBLISHER||: New Straits Times|
The torrential rains in the past week should not be a surprise.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department had provided information and issued warnings since mid-December on the heavy and continuous rainfall which led to the massive floods and landslides in the country.
This extreme weather is one of the results of global warming, caused by rising carbon emissions from human activities.
Globally, extreme weather associated with global warming is causing catastrophes on a massive scale. Our severe floods are further proof that Malaysia is not spared.
Our nation faces significant climate risks in the long term, with low-lying coastlines becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels.
Extreme weather patterns are also increasingly threatening basic necessities, like water, food security, public health, as well as resources that support our economy, including the infrastructure we have invested in.
To combat the impact of climate change and global warming, we need a combined and comprehensive approach.
The first approach is to build climate resilience by adapting to the inevitable impact of climate change, and secondly, through climate mitigation to reduce carbon emissions, resulting in net zero emissions.
The first key measure to address these approaches is by phasing out coal power. This is crucial. Hence, it is encouraging to see that Malaysia has recently taken a “no coal” position.
The nation has substantial potential to harness renewable energy in terms of solar energy, hydropower and biomass. To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we must emphasise green investments, such as in renewables, public transportation, low carbon mobility and energy efficiency.
We need to be competitive by decarbonising our energy and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy in the manufacturing and transportation sectors.
We can also benefit by embracing solar and battery storage technologies, while driving a green economy agenda.
Secondly, nature-based solutions must be prioritised. We should leverage on the country’s rich natural capital, which provides us with a vital opportunity to protect our environment, reduce our carbon footprint and, at the same time, create a competitive advantage.
We need to protect our natural forests as a carbon sink to capture emissions and undertake forest restoration to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Retaining at least 50 per cent of our land mass is crucial in keeping our forests intact to capture emissions. We should strive to keep this carbon asset for domestic use to make our economy more competitive and generate multiplier effects.
One example of this multiplier effect is that these forests also act as a sponge, storing rainwater and reducing the impact of flash floods.
Given the close links between the environment and human health, livelihoods, water and food security, it has never been more urgent that environmental protection, conservation and sustainable management are mainstreamed at all levels.
The evidence is irrefutable:
1. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning, deforestation and other human activities are suffocating our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.
2. Restoring our planet’s health requires all of our efforts, from the government to the private sector and the public as a whole.
3. We must act now and act together to ensure a rapid transition towards a low carbon economy.
Together, we can prevent the coming disasters of climate change, nature loss and environmental destruction.