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How Four Different States In Malaysia Are Coping With Climate Change And Other Environmental Problems

Climate change is affecting many different states in Malaysia, from unfavourable changes in the weather to rising levels flooding towns and rice paddies. And that’s on top of other environmental issues such as deforestation and water pollution.

Many state governments are not entirely blind to these problems and have implemented different laws and regulations. These measures are designed not only to safeguard our country’s environment but also to enforce businesses’ compliance with the newly established Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) guidelines. This dual objective aims to promote environmental protection and responsible business practices, contributing to overall sustainability efforts and the mitigation of climate change.

Climate change is a dangerous reality, so it is good that these states in our country are taking steps to mitigate the detrimental effects of not just climate change but environmental degradation in general.

Here are four different Malaysian states and the ways they cope with climate change and other environmental problems.

#1: Sarawak

The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously passed an Environment (Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emission) Bill, 2023, making it the first state to pass such a law in the country. Source: The Borneo Post

Sarawak made headlines by being the first Malaysian state to pass legislation addressing climate change, well ahead of what the federal government tried but failed to do[1].

Introduced on November 20th, 2023, the landmark Environment (Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Emission) Bill aims to safeguard Sarawak’s environment by implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net zero carbon emissions in the state by 2050.  The initiative aligns with the 12th Malaysia Plan’s commitment to reduce the country’s GHG emissions by 45% and supports Malaysia’s broader plans outlined in the National Energy Policy (DTN) 2022-2040[2].

Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Law, MA63 and Federal-State Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazal,  in her winding-up speech, said the bill on greenhouse gas emission reduction is a testament to Sarawak’s dedication to responsible development and the betterment of the state under the visionary leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Our aim is clear, that is to reduce carbon emissions by at least 45 per cent, increase green job opportunities, empower small and medium enterprises, and equip Sarawak with sustainable infrastructure by 2030.

The new bill on greenhouse gas emission reduction is not just a legislative measure; it is a testament to our commitment to responsible development, environmental sustainability, and the well-being of our people. – Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department[3]

She added that the Bill includes measures such as mandating registered businesses in scheduled economic sectors to submit annual carbon emission reports and establishing carbon emission thresholds.

Where any registered business entity is unable or unwilling to bring their carbon emissions down to the emission threshold levels, a carbon levy at a rate to be determined by the state Cabinet will be imposed. – Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department[2]

She added that the law will also help the country’s emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The law should also help control flaring and venting of petroleum and greenhouse gases by the oil and gas sectors and also promote forest carbon activities, carbon capture, and storage projects, validated according to Carbon Standards Rules for issuing Sarawak carbon credit units. – Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department[4]

Sharifah added that the Bill would establish a robust system for project verification and validation, overseen by appointed carbon standard administrators. This measure aims to ensure the integrity and credibility of carbon credits issued in Sarawak. According to her, this initiative will enable Sarawak to generate revenue through the trading or selling of carbon credits, promote carbon capture and storage, and mitigate the effects of climate change. Additionally, it offers opportunities for Sarawakians to participate in global warming mitigation projects and earn carbon credits for their efforts[5].

These activities will enable the state to have a new source of revenue which would enhance the state’s capacity towards developing the state in an economically sustainable manner. – Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department[5]

#2: Selangor

State executive councillor for climate change, tourism, the environment, green technology and Orang Asli affairs Hee Loy Sian responds to questions from state assemblymen during the Selangor State Legislative Assembly session in the Annex Building in Shah Alam. Source: Selangor Journal

In 2022, the Selangor state government established the Green Technology Action Plan to handle the issue of climate change and reduce carbon emissions. State executive councillor for climate change Hee Loy Sian said among the initiatives that will be implemented through the plan include encouraging wider society to use public transportation such as the Smart Selangor Bus.

The Selangor government will also implement green townships by using the Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF) as the basis of all its policy planning, on the local authority level.

We will also support the initiative of local authorities, state departments and agencies to step up with programmes to reduce climate change impact in the long-term. Among these are the 100 Million Tree-Planting campaign and the Earth Hour campaign. – Hee Loy Sian, state executive councillor for climate change[6]

Later in the same year, the Selangor Climate Change Action Council or Iklim Selangor was established to manage and deal with climate change factors contributing to disasters.

Iklim Selangor will act as an advisory body and think-tank to assist the state in planning, implementing and monitoring programmes and projects as well as plan and manage solutions related to climate change and the environment.

It will also help identify actions needed to achieve sustainable development in the state. – Hee Loy Sian, State tourism, environment, green technology and Orang Asli affairs committee chairman[7]

Recently, it was announced that the Selangor Climate Change Action Council will undergo an upgrade, transforming into a Centre for Climate Change Adaptation. This move signifies the state government’s heightened commitment to address the existing threat posed by climate change.

The State Executive Councillor for the Environment, Jamaliah Jamaluddin, disclosed that the newly established Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, with a budget of RM800,000, will develop strategic measures to tackle climate change. The centre will focus on nine key sectors such as water sources, agriculture, health, land use, waste management, and transportation. Additionally, it will address the impact of climate change on forestry, biodiversity, industry, infrastructure, energy, and the environment.

The decision (to set up the centre) was made after the state government recognised that this issue requires serious attention. Therefore, there is a need to establish a centre which functions to formulate strategic plans.

It will also serve as a leading agency for the development of green technology, carbon market management, assessment of private environmental and green technology-related project proposals, as well as research and development. – Jamaliah Jamaluddin, state executive councillor for the environment[8]

Given Selangor’s recent experiences with flash floods, storms, and landslides impacting development activities and people’s socio-economic status, these plans demonstrate the significance of integrating short-term actions, such as climate disaster risk management, with medium and long-term efforts like climate change adaptation. This integrated approach aims to enhance the resilience of local communities in the face of climate-related challenges[9].

#3: Johor

Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, giving her speech before officiating the Johor Sustainability Centre (Sustainable Johor) and witnessing the launch of the Johor Green Deal at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2023 Opening Ceremony. Menteri Besar of Johor, Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi stood at her side. Source: The Iskandarian

In the wake of deadly flash floods in recent years, the Johor state government has actively sought immediate action against climate change and environmental degradation.

Thus, the multi-party Johor Climate Change and Disaster Management Committee has been formed after receiving unanimous support from the state assembly. The motion, proposed by Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, was passed by Deputy State Speaker Datuk Samsolbari Jamali after all 56 state assemblymen agreed to it.

The committee will look into issues such as flash floods, stagnant floods (banjir termenung) and repeated flooding incidents when there is heavy rain.

Its functions include looking at the laws and regulations related to climate change and disaster management as well as finding feasible initiatives and examining the effectiveness of the flood mitigation process on the district and state levels. – Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi[10]

He told the state assembly in Kota Iskandar that the committee will study solutions “to minimise flood damage to properties and infrastructure, which includes coming up with suggestions for the relocation of victims.”[10]

Addressing another concern, he emphasised the need to improve the capabilities of relevant departments and agencies in managing the impacts of climate change and floods. Onn Hafiz stated that the committee would also be empowered to engage experts, if necessary, to contribute to studies and any associated research[10].

More recently, there was the unveiling of the Johor State Green Development Master Plan Framework (also known as the Johor Green Deal) at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2023 international conference.

The Permaisuri of Johor, Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, officiated the Johor Sustainability Centre (Sustainable Johor) and witnessed the launch of the Johor Green Deal. In her officiation speech:

Based on the five primary core areas in which the success of Johor is built upon, the Johor Green Deal will become the primary reference and policy for the green development agenda, as well as guiding Johor in terms of prioritising the range of green growth projects for the state.

In ensuring the effective implementation of the Johor Green Deal, JSC will serve as a research avenue for the purpose of advising the state government on green development through collaborations with academic institutions and industry players.[11]

This initiative outlines three main objectives: Environment, Society and Economy. To further ensure the holistic implementation of green development in Johor, the Johor Green Deal will be implemented based on five main pillars: Energy, Transportation and mobility, Land use, environment and water, Low-carbon cities and Industry[11].

#4: Pahang

The Regent of Pahang, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah when visiting an exhibition in conjunction with the Pahang ECO-SCHOOLS Opening Ceremony at SK Tunku Azizah. Also seen, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail. Source: NST

June 2023 saw Pahang lead the charge in environmental education with the then newly-launched Pahang Greening Education Partnership (GEP) roadmap,  which aims to empower the younger generation with the necessary knowledge, skills and values required to address the pressing environmental issues through education.

Pahang Regent Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah stated that the Pahang GEP 2023-2030 roadmap will encompass several pillars. These include making at least 50% of education institutions in Pahang recognised as green schools, integrating climate change education into the national curriculum through the Eco-Schools Programme (ESP), providing climate change education courses for school principals, and two teachers from each school, and establishing schools in Felda settlements as education centres for sustainable community development[12].

The Regent, who serves as the royal patron of Eco-Schools Malaysia, characterised the program organised by Green Growth Asia Foundation in collaboration with the Pahang government and state education department as a historical moment.

The ESP is the world’s most extensive Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme, with a network covering 95 countries, involving over 10 million students and one million teachers. The programme is vital in achieving the goals of the GEP by 2030.

The ESP is the ideal platform to foster exemplary values, raise awareness and recognition of current environmental issues through project-based learning. The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) concept, which I had decreed all these years, is also being executed through the ESP. – Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah, Pahang Regent[12]

The Regent emphasised that preserving the environment is everyone’s responsibility, achievable through simple measures such as saving water and electricity, recycling, reducing waste, and avoiding food wastage.

The young generation should know that Pahang produces 1,300 tonnes of rubbish daily and our landfills are running out of space. The youngsters will be our hope to promote the culture of recycling so that our environment will always remain sustainable. – Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah, Pahang Regent[12]

Meanwhile, Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Ilyana Al-Sultan Abdullah, the royal patron of Eco-Schools Pahang, characterised the Eco-Schools Programme (ESP) as a long-term solution to various environmental challenges centred around youth participation and empowerment.

This environmental education programme was thoughtfully structured to realise the aspirations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. – Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Ilyana Al-Sultan Abdullah[12]

Explore our sources:

  1. R.Y. Alis Haizan. (2023). Analysis: How Sarawak manages to pass two landmark laws in Malaysia, even ahead of the federal government. Channel News Asia. Link.
  2. S. Ling. (2023). Sarawak first in the country to enact anti-climate change law. The Star. Link.
  3. N. Jee. (2023). Sarawak passes Environment Bill, 2023. New Sarawak Tribune. Link.
  4. M. Umpang. (2023). Sh Hasidah: S’wak’s own climate change law needed as M’sia yet to have own law despite ratifying international treaties. The Borneo Post. Link.
  5. Bernama. (2023). Sarawak first state to pass law on carbon emissions. The Borneo Post. Link.
  6. S. Fathil. (2022). Selangor to formulate various initiatives to counter climate change. Selangor Journal. Link.
  7. The Star. (2022). S’gor forms panel to deal with climate change. Link.
  8. N. Arshad. (2023). Selangor to develop climate change adaptation centre — Exco. Selangor Journal. Link.
  9. The Star. (2022). Selangor readies climate action plan. Link.
  10. The Star. (2023). After floods, Johor sets up climate change committee. Link.
  11. The Iskandarian. (2023). APCW 2023: Johor Green Deal and Johor Sustainable Centre to Amplify State’s Sustainable Efforts. Link.
  12. T.N. Alagesh. (2023). Pahang ‘green roadmap’ to amplify environmental preservation at education institutions. New Straits Times. Link.

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