Malaysia Needs To Pass Climate Change Act To Keep Pledges Made In COP26

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 – If the Malaysian government is serious about the country’s climate change policies post COP26, it would have to push ahead for a Climate Change Act to achieve the eight commitments it announced at the recent COP26 in Glasgow.

While commending the commitments announced by Malaysia’s Minister of Environment and Water, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man at the climate event, former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Yeo Bee Yin and former Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Dr. Ong Kian Ming, have raised their concerns on whether Malaysia will be able to meet the commitments.

“While we agree with the ambitious targets to reduce Malaysia’s carbon footprint as announced by the Minister in Glasgow, we very much doubt that there is across the board agreement and commitment by the rest of the Malaysian government with regards to these targets,” Bee Yin and Kian Ming, who are Parliament members for Bakri and Bangi respectively, said in a joint statement today.

The goals announced in the 8 commitments in the Minister’s speech can only be achieved if climate change policies are championed by the Prime Minister, prioritized across all Ministries (and not just the Ministry of Environment and Water) and coordinated across different policies.

“To realize these goals, we proposed that a Climate Change Act like the one that was passed in the United Kingdom in 2008 and updated in 2019 be tabled and passed in Malaysia so that there will be a legally binding “carbon budget” that Malaysia must achieve by 2050.”

In the statement, Bee Yin and Kian Ming also pointed out discrepancies between what is being pledged and what is been done on the ground.

“For example, one of the targets announced is the aspiration for 100% of government fleets to be non-internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030” (Commitment 3) which means to say that the vehicles used by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and the civil service will either by hybrid or electrical vehicles by 2030.

“In the meantime, we can see the “sincerity” of the government in wanting to be more eco-friendly in its decision to change the official car of Ministers from a Proton Perdana to a Toyota Vellfire on the basis that the monthly rental for the Vellfire is RM2.80 cheaper than the Proton Perdana.

“This does not consider the fact that the fuel consumption of the Toyota Vellfire at 8.6L/100km is 36.5% higher than the 6.3L/100km fuel consumption of the Honda Accord (rebadged as Proton Perdana). Assuming the Ministerial car travels 100km a day for 5 days a week, this translates into 2000km travelled per month. Based on this estimate, the monthly petrol bill for the Vellfire is RM94.3 more than the Honda Accord.

“The Vellfire also generates 460kg more in CO2 emissions compared to the Honda Accord! This means that in making the decision to change from a Honda Accord to the Vellfire, there was no consideration taken as to the difference in the environmental impact of the different vehicles.”

This will defeat the government’s commitment to have an eco-friendly government car fleet by 2030.

Table 1: Comparing the Monthly Difference in Petrol Bill and CO2 Emissions between a Toyota Vellfire and Honda Accord (rebadged as Proton Perdana)

ModelFuel Consumption (L/100km)Monthly Fuel Consumed (L)[4]Monthly Petrol Bill (RM) [5]Monthly CO2 Emissions (kg)[6]
Toyota Vellfire8.6[7]172352.61722.3
Honda Accord(Rebadged as Proton Perdana)6.3[8]126258.31262.3
Monthly Difference in Petrol Bill (RM)94.3(36.5% increase)
Monthly Difference in CO2 Emissions (kg)460(36.4% increase)

There are other commitments announced by the Minister which raises concerns about whether this commitment is shared equally by other Ministries.

Doubts were also raised on the Minister’s announcement of moving towards zero waste directed to landfill through waster to energy concept and increase its recycling rate to to 40 percent by 2025.

“According to the National Department on Solid Waste Management (JPSPN), 158 out of 165 or 95% of our landfills[9] are open and unsanitary landfills (dumpsites). Open and unsanitary landfills emit methane gas, which has the warming potential that is 80 times more than C02 over a 20-year period.

“Waste to Energy facilities will not be able to replace these landfills in the next 10 years which means that there needs to be a comprehensive plan by the government to clean up these unsanitary landfills as part of our strategy to reduce our methane gas emissions. Both landfills and Waste to Energy policies are under the Local Government and Housing Ministry (KPKT) and as far as we can see, there has been no significant policies announced and implemented by the current or previous KPKT Minister in both areas especially in terms of the impact on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

The two MPs also pointed at the lowering of targets in the renewable energy capacity for power generation as well as not properly thought-out plans in the area of carbon emission reduction. pricing

“Putrajaya believes that carbon pricing is the best policy tool to reduce carbon emission. The eventuality of carbon pricing is carbon tax (although the government has avoided the term so far). But analysis by the WWF and BCG in the Malaysian context estimates that 60% of emission reduction towards net zero by 2050 does not require carbon pricing. (Graph 1 below)

“The government should prioritize identifying low hanging fruits which can achieve carbon reduction first without having to resort to a carbon tax. Many of these areas can result in more sustained economic growth and net jobs creation such as renewable energy initiatives, the introduction of smart manufacturing which is less energy consuming and energy efficient building management techniques, just to name a few.

Graph 1: Contribution to reduction in C02 needed for Net Zero by 2050 – 60% of such reductions do not require carbon pricing initiativesimage.png

Source: WWF and BCG study entitled: Securing our future: Net Zero Pathways for Malaysia

Bee Yin and Kian Ming said the ambitious national climate plan must be done in consultation with various stakeholders from the government, the business community, NGOs, academics and interested private citizens. And these obligations must be set well in advance so that the business community and other groups have sufficient time to prepare.

The PH government was already preparing a policy study for a Climate Change Act to be tabled in 2022 before the Sheraton Move took place.