Displaying items by tag: climate change
WHILE we are still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, the impacts of planetary catastrophes have begun to rear its ugly head.
Spain, Greece and China are suffering from heat waves, high temperatures, extreme flooding and deadly wildfires.
In an interview in the Veritasium channel, when asked what were among the next problems that will strike humanity post- pandemic, Bill Gates responded that it will be climate change as well as bioterrorism.
This has been made more evident by the alarming code red warning by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, which clearly estimates the high chance that the world might cross the global warming level of 1.5°C increase in the next decade.
Climate-related risks of health and livelihood problems, food source scarcity, shortage of clean water supply, security and economic threats are predicted to intensify if global warming increases by 2°C.
The IPCC has proposed that the world needs to achieve zero carbon emission by 2050, and Malaysia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emission intensity of gross domestic product by up to 45 per cent by 2030.
Government intervention in realising green targets, proper execution of policies and active monitoring of green enterprise performances are critical.
More importantly, the country needs to rethink its long-standing approach of natural resources-led development approach over environmental preservation, and move towards ecologically sustainable growth.
A two-pronged strategy needs to be considered. First, accelerate existing efforts and infrastructures that are in place. Second, develop new paradigms and practice-oriented culture of a circular economy.
Therefore, the ministries that manage the environment, water, energy, natural resources, agriculture, plantations and commodities have strategic roles to play to limit carbon emissions.
Moreover, the government and the public need to ensure effective implementation of long-term planning, such as the Green Technology Master Plan 2017-2030 and Malaysia's Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030. In 2015, the government made it mandatory for households to separate solid waste at the source, implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government under the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672).
However, the lack of a consistent solid waste management policy and precedent has led to an estimated waste recovery rate of only less than five per cent. Therefore, devising a clear policy or law pertaining to waste management especially in major cities is indispensable.
Cities like San Francisco and Seoul should become our models. Through effective policies and laws, they managed to divert 80 per cent of their local daily wastes from landfills through recycling and turning their food wastes into compost for plantations.
In addition to circular economic policies and mechanisms in its manufacturing and waste management activities, Malaysian authorities also need to aggressively adopt policies that improve the lifestyle of its population.
This primarily involves redesigning business models whereby all products manufactured are easily recyclable, repurposed or reused, and utilises sustainable sources of raw materials.
This may ensure products continue to circulate as long as they can, and minimise the use of natural resources in creating new ones.
It is more timely than ever for the establishment of a Special Parliamentarian Committee on Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Technology as announced by the Parliament speaker in 2019.
This committee needs to become a coordinator for multidimensional strategies of curbing the impact of climate change.
No time should be wasted to come up with a concerted effort across sectors and agencies if we are serious about preserving the planet for the next generation.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 29 September 2021
Notwithstanding the current cooler spell, Malaysia is hotter than ever before, and the trend shows no signs of reversing to the temperatures enjoyed by Malaysians over the last few decades.
This fact was also acknowledged by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his speech at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last month.
He had urged the global community to pay serious attention to combating extreme climate change. He also highlighted the importance of survival initiatives, such as alternative shelter and food production, in case of a calamity.
Indeed, a majority of countries are experiencing the drastic effects of climate change, as evident from UNGA where almost all leaders brought up the issue.
Most climate scientists agree that human activity is the leading cause of global warming, which in turn triggers climate change. Previously, the natural emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) was the most significant factor in global warming as it formed the largest concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere compared with other greenhouse gases (GHG).
However, human activity stemming from industry, energy production, transportation using carbon-based fuels, and the sum of agricultural activities, food production, land-use and forestry now contribute up to 29 per cent (i.e. more than one-fourth) of the total global GHG emissions.
In this regard, the world needs to shift its attention to sustainable resource management and development practices to curb climate issues.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy has taken place in many developed and developing nations, reducing their carbon footprint.
Among the progressive measures has been the increase in facilities for renewable energy, including solar farms, wind turbines, biomass and hydroelectric plants — creating a sustainable “energy mix” ecosystem. In addition, “energy efficiency” and “energy conservation” practices were also introduced.
Energy efficiency requires consumers to invest in equipment that can operate with less energy for the same or more load, while energy conservation requires consumers to reduce the use of electrical appliances.
These measures can save natural resources from depletion, keep the environment free from pollution, and save some money in the long run.
The best environmentally friendly activities include the 3R practice of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. Some might extend this idea up to seven (7R) in a circular flow — rethink, refuse, reduce, repurpose, reuse, recycle and rot.
These ideas are commonly applied to daily products or consumables, but the concept can also be applied to other human activities such as transportation. For instance, first, we should rethink whether or not it is necessary to drive fast and recklessly. Driving fast will consume more fuel, release more carbon and might put other people at risk. As a result, the second step would be to refuse to make it a practice.
Third, we should reduce our driving activity by prioritising what is important or at least make the most out of a single trip by accomplishing multiple tasks. Additionally, instead of using a car for a single purpose, a car-sharing practice will make better use of its capacity; this can be considered as repurposing or reusing.
This, in turn, will reduce traffic congestion and pollution, while adding value to the car owner. Finally, as the car reaches a certain mileage, we must plan whether to restore, sell or recycle the vehicle.
Ideally, the process of managing resources will form a closed-loop system; this circularity is aimed at eliminating waste and promoting the continual use of resources — a model known as the circular economy. Unlike the traditional linear economy with the “take, make and dispose” approach that lets waste end up in landfills, the circular economy adopts the “regenerative” approach where “all waste should be food for another process”, inspired from the natural system.
It will mainly involve “reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling” processes. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation paper, “Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change”, switching to renewable energy could cut GHG by 55 per cent, and the circular economy could reduce the remaining 45 per cent emissions mainly from the making of products and food production.
In Muslim countries, the concept of the circular economy has been a subject of rigorous discussion especially by those in the Islamic finance circle. Several Islamic concepts in relation to managing resources and the ecology, such as mizan (universal balance), miqdar (proportion), khalifah (stewardship) and maqasid (purposeful use) are supportive of the circular approach.
These Islamic principles can serve as catalysts, among others, to encourage the Muslim community to live in a sustainable system, thus contributing to the efforts to address the climate issue at the global level.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Saturday 26 October 2019