Displaying items by tag: climate change
In the volatile crossroads of climate change and conflict, humanity grapples with an unprecedented crisis, demanding urgent action and resolute solidarity. The accelerating impacts of climate change, particularly pronounced in conflict-ridden areas, necessitate collective global endeavours like never before.
The nexus of climate change and conflict
For regions fraught by conflict, the consequences of climate change intertwine with the harrowing realities of warfare, amplifying the suffering of already vulnerable populations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) underscores that climate-related challenges intensify existing vulnerabilities and contribute to global conflicts — 14 out of the 25 countries most susceptible to climate change are embroiled in conflict. This convergence significantly amplifies the daily struggles for peace and stability, compounding hardships in these regions often neglected by climate action. Conflict-torn areas such as South Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo witness a confluence of protracted conflicts and climate-induced adversities.
Nations in conflict struggle to cope with climate change impacts, their adaptive capacity weakened by unrest that disrupts livelihoods and limits access to sustenance. Severe droughts, erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged water scarcity, and food insecurity exacerbate the ramifications of prolonged conflicts, leading to widespread displacement and humanitarian crises. The intricate relationship between conflict and climate change not only escalates resource competition but also drives displacement, exacerbating the plight of vulnerable populations and undermining prospects for sustainable peace. For instance, the Syrian War traces its roots to a five-year drought starting in 2011 — a “threat multiplier” aggravated resource mismanagement and economic challenges, fostering conflict and the emergence of violent non-state actors. These compounded challenges underscore the urgent need for integrated approaches addressing conflict resolution and climate resilience, recognising the complexity and detrimental impacts on affected communities.
Malaysia’s concerns and global resilience
Reflecting on recent events, Malaysia is deeply troubled by escalating conflicts in the Middle East. Regions like Palestine, already subjected to hot, arid conditions with scant water resources, now confront heightened vulnerability due to climate change. Environmental challenges, resource shortages, sovereignty limitations, and impeded institutions exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. Instances of human rights violations, including the use of water as a weapon of war in Gaza, have been highlighted by Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. The deliberate prevention of safe water supplies into Gaza by Israel violates international humanitarian and human rights law, contributing to around 70% of Gaza’s population consuming contaminated water. This crisis will escalate if fuel continues to be blocked from entering the blockaded area.
Inclusion of humanitarian efforts in global resilience
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has acknowledged the intersection of climate, conflict, and humanitarian efforts. In 2022, the UNFCCC underscored that climate change amplifies conflict risks and its impacts — extreme weather events, water scarcity, and resource competition — heighten tensions in conflict-prone regions. Climate change, acting as a threat multiplier, intensifies existing vulnerabilities and conflicts, impeding peace-building efforts and worsening humanitarian crises. Integration of climate action into conflict resolution strategies becomes imperative to address these complex challenges.
Recent discussions at the Security Council underscored the challenges faced by UN peace operations due to deteriorating security, political environments, environmental degradation, and extreme weather events amplified by climate change. The unanimity among UN Security Council members that climate change and security cannot be treated as separate issues signifies the urgency of integrated responses.
Solidarity for climate and peace building
Malaysia has been one of the advocates of global peace, humanitarian efforts, and resilience in the context of climate action and sustainable development, and supports tailored solutions for conflict-affected regions. The success of climate initiatives in such zones hinges on collaborative, conflict-sensitive climate actions, ensuring programmes not only mitigate environmental risks, but also foster peace-building and resilience.
During the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), greater commitment is essential from world leaders to advance global climate goals while supporting conflict resolution efforts, particularly addressing urgent issues such as Gaza. Ensuring the participation and recognition of frontline communities like Palestinians in climate negotiations are pivotal for an inclusive approach of “no one left behind”. The COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace stands as a crucial milestone for global collaboration in tackling the climate crisis and its entanglement with complex conflicts. This resolution is timely in the face of increased volatility and impending warming scenarios threatening stability worldwide. Uniting in a global front, leveraging collective resources, and expertise to mitigate climate change impacts in conflict zones is imperative. Malaysia’s steadfast support for humanitarian causes, with its encouragement for climate resilience, showcases the potential for impactful change when nations unite during COP28.
Let us rally behind the imperative of climate action in conflict zones, recognising that our concerted efforts today will mould the resilience of generations to come. May our commitment echo compassion, and unwavering determination amid adversity, solidarity for climate and peace.
Prof Dr Maszlee Malik is the chairman of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, Malaysia.
Published in: The Edge Malaysia, 30 Novemeber 2023
PRIME MINISTER Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob joined other state leaders in calling for urgent climate change action during his speech at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, recently.
This is consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC's new findings, which state that we can no longer rely on the 2050 target of net zero carbon emissions to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius because it will be too late for the earth to survive.
A more significant measure to keep global temperatures under control is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 43 per cent, and specifically 34 per cent methane gas emissions, by 2030.
In fact, Malaysia has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. In other words, timing is critical in preventing climate disasters.
According to 2019 data, Malaysia's GHG emissions increased by 3.44 per cent over the previous year. Waste management is a critical step in lowering methane emissions.
But despite Malaysia's experience with the negative effects of climate change, particularly extreme flooding, it appears that strategies and policies are not being adopted and implemented as quickly as they should be.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Sunday 02 October 2022
It’s the bedrock idea underpinning global climate politics: Countries that got rich by spewing greenhouse gasses have a responsibility to cut emissions faster than those that didn’t while putting up money to help poor nations adapt.
This framework made sense at the dawn of climate diplomacy. Back in 1990, almost two-thirds of all disparities in emissions could be explained by national rankings of pollution. But after more than three decades of rising income inequality worldwide, what if gaps between nation states are no longer the best way to understand the problem?
There’s growing evidence that the inequality between rich and poor people’s emissions within countries now overwhelms the country-to-country disparities. In other words: High emitters have more in common across international boundaries, no matter where they call home.
Analysts from the World Inequality Lab, which is led by the Paris School of Economics and University of California at Berkeley recently put forward an alternative assessment focusing more on varying measures of consumer income than gross domestic product. After a generation of poorly distributed gains from globalization, it turns out that personal wealth does more than national wealth to explain the sources of emissions. Climate progress means first curbing the carbon output of the wealthier among us.
Read the full article at bloomberg.com >> trib.al/2MlwZkJ
The environment is currently in a dire situation. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report published on Feb 28, this year, highlighted that humanity might witness further environmental catastrophes in the coming decades as the world is expected to hit the global warming tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In other words, the world is already in a state of planetary emergency.
In the backdrop of these developments, the fasting month once again invites Muslims to not only rejuvenate their spiritual commitment toward God in terms of fasting and praying, but also enjoins them to improve their interaction with others, including the environment.
Renowned Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his seminal work entitled Riayah al-Biah fi Shariah al-Islam (Preservation of the environment from the Shariah perspective), highlights the cardinal Islamic adage of "al-Din Muamalah" which roughly means "religion is (primarily concerned with) the treatment of others".
Although the phrase has not referred to a specific verse of the Quran or a saying of Prophet Muhammad, its spirit could be identified in many Islamic injunctions.
The hadith clearly conveys the message that merely fulfilling ritualistic obligations would not be sufficient if one is not duly observant of maintaining decent interaction with others.
Interestingly, al-Qaradawi also noted that the same applies to human interactions with nature and its elements.
Preservation of nature in all of its forms, including greening the earth by planting trees, nurturing and developing lands and prudent use of natural resources should be recognised as acts that lead a person closer to God.
Without due observance of these instructions, al-Qaradawi argues, the quality of their ritualistic deeds would remain questionable.
Reflecting on the purpose of these instructions, it should be noted with concern that during Ramadan, 10,000 tonnes of food is wasted on a daily basis.
It is estimated that around 15 to 25 per cent of all food purchased or prepared during Ramadan finds its way to the garbage bin.
This adds to the volume of food wasted every day, which comprises one-third of the overall amount of food produced daily.
Unfortunately, such a phenomenon takes place in spite of the stress on our food supply chains that has led to price hikes of food items such as chicken, vegetables and wheat flour.
While mountains of this food waste might rot away in landfills where they release methane gases and contribute to global warming, single-use plastic waste from food wrappers also exacerbate the environmental problem.
Internationally, some movements have started promoting "Green Iftar" campaigns.
Their primary aim is to educate Muslim communities in opting for sustainable and effectivebreaking-of-fast choices that are in line with Islamic ethics.
This includes using local or seasonal ingredients in food preparation in order to reduce carbon emission, judicious water usage, preparing simple meals with fewer animal products, avoiding unnecessary plastic bags or packaging by bringing one's own bag while buying meals for iftar, and making early arrangement to donate extra iftar food, especially to those in need.
Local governments and religious authorities in Malaysia may need to consider the possibility of adopting some of these instructions into policy guidelines for mosques, hotels and institutions that organise iftar throughout Ramadan.
It is critical to ensure that the spiritual month of Ramadan does not exacerbate the dire environmental crisis the world is currently facing.
The writer is acting deputy CEO, International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Monday 18 April 2022
SINCE 2021, we have been witnessing sharp increases in the prices of vegetables, some almost 100 per cent. The same is happening to poultry products like chicken and eggs.
The continued price hikes will have ripple effects on other items and industries. Food manufacturers and restaurants will pass the burden to the end of the supply chain — the consumers.
Some experts and institutions have urged the authorities to enforce a strict price ceiling on essential products and implement price control throughout the year, but these solutions would be effective only in the short run.
Other experts have argued that a strict price ceiling may have negative effects, such as discouraging farmers from increasing production, creating artificial shortages and diverting supply to those who are able and willing to pay above ceiling prices.
While many factors contributed to the food price hike, it is arguably a symptom of the food crisis that has been predicted to strike worldwide due to climate change. As farmers now can't predict dry or rainy seasons due to climate disruption, crops are more exposed to diseases and ruin.
Fixing the food supply chain is critical for the survival of a country like ours. More importantly, we need to reimagine our food system to build resilient food resources for the nation. Food security is achieved by balancing boosting domestic production and developing smart partnerships with other producer countries.
In fixing our broken food system, we crucially need new approaches. In the long run, it is important to develop climate-resilient agricultural strategies and practices. These include an emphasis on soil health, diversified production systems, opting for ecological design and selling to high-value direct markets.
Diversified production that can preserve soil health can mitigate climate risk throughout the growing season as it can reduce losses from weather catastrophes and phenomena. Ecological farming that allows adaptation to the local landscape and climate may offer some buffer from weather-related disturbances. Finally, selling to high-value direct markets can increase profitability while creating social capital.
It is also crucial to shorten the food supply chain in the community. Other than eliminating middlemen to allow farmers to directly market products to consumers and reduce prices, shortening the food supply chain can also be done by developing a culture of community farming.
To transform our food system, we need to shift from conventional agriculture to agroecological systems that promote sustainable consumption while addressing land and resource degradation.
Policy-level initiatives are also crucial. As climate disruption poses risks to our food system, the authorities should consider enhancing policies on crop insurance (or takaful for Muslims) for food farmers in particular.
Such financial products can stabilise farmers' income, while offering protection against yield and price risks.
In the context of climate change, the authorities, producers and consumers need to be cognisant of its impact on food systems and take measures to adapt to and mitigate them. A resilient food system is undoubtedly a lifeline for the current and future generations.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 27 Jan 2022
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