by | Norsam Tasli Mohd Razali
The world temperature is rising, rainy and dry seasons have become unpredictable, and wind and rainfall patterns are shifting. These changes – termed globally as climate change – are affecting the ecosystem and lives of all living things. Apart from natural disasters such as hurricane, flood, draught etc. that cause the loss of lives and destruction of properties, the continuous climate change will have negative affect on the economic development of the nation.
Impact of Climate Change
Climate change is a global issue. It does not happen naturally or suddenly, but as a result of human actions and activities such as such as industrialisation, deforestations and pollution. These activities increase the amount of CO2, which rises the world temperature (global warming). The increased of greenhouse gases (GHG) due to the burning of fossil fuel and the consistent trend in glaciers changes are the key indicators for climate change.
The major threats from climate change are food and fresh water shortage. Natural catastrophes such as hurricane, drought and wildfire have caused development of deserts at many places, rendering them unsuitable for crop cultivation, and extreme flood due to the rise of sea level has inhibited agriculture activities. The melting of glaziers caused by global warming increases the sea level. Water from the sea flows in inland, to fresh water catchment areas, and makes the fresh water acidic. The acidifying of fresh water will harm not only human but also led to extinction of species due to the change of ecosystem.
The Malaysian Scenario
In Malaysia, we have learnt to accept the fact that annually we would be facing a season of heavy rain that causes massive losses of live and property. Malaysia has experienced losses of approximately RM185 million (USD60 million) per year with 1239 total average number of people killed in 58 events of natural disasters. However, steps are being taken to mitigate the effect and minimize the damage.
The target is clear. First, the government has pledged a 40% cut of emissions intensity by 2020 (from the level of emissions intensity in 2005) to ensure our economic growth is compatible with a stable climate. Second, the government has formulated a policy to ensure that 50% of Malaysia remains as permanent forest in order to protect the value of Malaysia biodiversity.
In many sectors, greener approaches are implemented to mitigate climate change. Various policies are formulated and programmes implemented for technology advancement and to increase public awareness. The main thrust of these policies and programmes is to minimise the damages or deal with the effects of climate change. Opportunities from and threat of climate change are gauged for the development programmes to diminish the negative impact and create activities, especially in the economic sectors.
Climate Change and the Energy Sector
The energy sector, particularly the use of fossil fuel, is one of the main contributors to climate change, especially on the way energy is produced, delivered and consumed. But energy is indispensable as it is an essential part of the economy. It plays an important role in other economic sectors such as transportation, building and manufacturing. Therefore, a ‘healthier’ way of producing, delivery and consumption of energy should be explored and practised.
Policy & Economic Infrastructure
Energy sector has been the backbone of Malaysia’s economic growth as it contributed approximately 20% of the national GDP. The target is to raise the energy sector’s total GNI contribution to RM241 billion by 2020, from RM110 billion in 2009. In order to achieve this target, the government has formulated a strategic policy and implemented various plans to provide a ‘healthy’ and sustainable energy platform.
In 2009, the government, through the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTHHA), introduced National Green Technology Policy. One of the objectives of this policy is to reduce the rate of energy usage and enhance the development of sustainable growth of the energy sector. KeTHHA is responsible on all issues related to national electricity supply, whilst energy policy for the upstream sector such as Oil and Gas is determined by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU).
The efforts for Green Technology started long before National Green Technology Policy was introduced. Since 1995 and up to 2010, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOSTI) provided funding for 286 green technology projects with an amount of approximately RM213 million. As an effort to encourage industry participation and involvement, FIT (feed in tariff) is implemented. It allows users to generate power from alternative energy resources such as through Solar PV, Biomass/Biogas and Small Hydro. Energy generated form these resources can be sold back to the national grid at a higher rate. Specific contract time frame is established – 16 years for Biogas and 21 years for Solar PV and Small Hydropower.
Technology for Efficiencies
The emphasis is energy efficiency. The utilisation of alternative and renewable energy has become the key area in the energy sector. Technologies such as clean coal, carbon sequestration and co-generation are targeted in the effort to reduce contribution of energy sector to GHG emission especially Carbon dioxide (CO2) during power generation. Decentralised energy system such as smart grid has been introduced as an improvement to energy transmission and distribution. Through this approach, 10% of energy lost could be saved and utilised. Energy storage technology such as fuel cell, ultra critical capacitor and flywheel is introduced and may be implemented in future.
Climate Change and the Transport Sector
The contribution of Transport Sector to Climate Change
Transportation is known to be the highest CO2 contributor, responsible for 13% of global GHG emission. Urbanisation and globalisation of trade intensifies GHG emission. Urbanisation leads to higher need of public transportation and ownership of private motorised vehicles, whilst globalisation increases trade activities utilising various mood of transportation – land, sea and air. All type of motorised vehicles – private, public and commercial – emit large amount of GHG and pollute the atmosphere. It is estimated that between 2010 to 2050, a significant increase of emissions are projected for road freight, aviation and maritime at more than 45%, 50% and 65%, respectively if there is no action done to mitigate the problem.
The effort to control GHG emission requires the participation of all level of society – government, industry players and the general public. The government could formulate policy, promote public awareness, and enforce law and regulation.
Improving the efficiency of public transport in major cities would be able to reduce the utilization of private vehicles, thus reduce GHG emission. A study by U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that public transportation produces significantly less GHG per passenger mile than private vehicles. From the study, heavy rail transit such as subways produce about 75% less in GHG per passenger mile than an average single-occupancy vehicle (SOV). While, light rail systems and bus transit produce 57% and 32% less emission, respectively.
Reducing the price of green diesel could be another step towards reducing GHG emission. It would encourage more people to use green diesel powered vehicle. Stringent and regular check of commercial/public vehicles and imposition of heavier penalties would help too as it would force owners/operators to regularly serviced and maintained the engine of their vehicles.
Through the ‘green initiatives’, the government encourages the public to switch to greener option. For examples, in Budget 2011 the government has announced 100% import and excise duties exemption for hybrid and electric cars. This incentive was extended to 31st December 2013 in budget 2012 to. As a result, more hybrid models are seen on Malaysian roads today.
The transport sector is always being accused to be the main cause of pollution and resource depletion. Fossil fuel that is being used by almost all mode of motorised transport is the main contributor. This prompted the search for new source of energy. Research and development of new fuel from renewable resources such as biofuel has been encouraged.
Malaysia has embarked in biofuel technology since 1982 and has successfully created a type of fuel that is suitable for land and sea transport. The fuel is a mixture, consisting 5% palm oil and 95% diesel. The research and development is an on-going process with mass production and commercialisation being the ultimate aim.
Globally greener private vehicle is being developed by almost every automobile producer. Hybrid and electric vehicle are the examples of the technology where the vehicle will ensure better fuel economy and, most importantly, lower GHG emission.
Climate Change and the Building Sector
Building sector contributes to one third of global GHG emission through the consumption of energy. It is estimated that buildings consume more than 40% of global energy. Buildings also contribute to other GHG emission, such as halocarbons.
Not everyone is aware about the contribution of the building sector towards climate change. Most industry players in the sector are either ignorant or not bothered. Therefore, it is left for the government to formulate policies, implement awareness programmes, and enact related laws and regulations.
Policies for Sustainable Energy
In Malaysia, the government promotes the application of renewable energy and energy efficiency for the building sectors. The initiative is intended to promote the development of buildings that consume less energy and emit less GHG.
Green Building Index (GBI) is one of the initiatives that have been implemented in Malaysia. GBI targets energy efficiency. Six criteria, including indoor environment quality, sustainable site and management, materials and resources, water efficiency and building innovation, are set to measure energy efficiency. Currently, there are 150 buildings in Malaysia that has been certified with GBI.
Besides GBI, Low Carbon Cities Framework & Assessment System is being introduced to plan for sustainable cities development. The plan covers four aspects of township which are environment, infrastructure, transportation and building. The Green Townships in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya are developed according to this plan.
Sustainable Building Technology
Cost-effective technologies and methodologies are available to be explored and applied to design sustainable building. Technology such as Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), Rainwater Harvesting (RWH), Regenerative Lifts, Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) and application of Green ICT in green buildings has been proven to bring efficiency in building operations.
The development of The Energy Commission’s Diamond Building in Putrajaya is an example of a building that applies energy efficiency. The building has the ability to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of 1,400 tonnes per year, which is similar to remove of 700 cars that has travelled 12,000 Km from the road. The building has also saved RM1 million annually in operating costs – RM950,000 from energy efficiency and RM45,000 from solar power generation.
Climate Change and the Manufacturing Sector
Manufacturing is responsible for over 20% of global CO2 emissions, mostly from the energy usage during the production stage. In Malaysia, the manufacturing sector is the biggest final energy user, at 18 667 ktoe of energy, equivalent to 42.6% of total final energy consumption. It accounts for up to 17% of air pollution-related health damage.
Collaboration for Better Policy
The government, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Plan, has established a study titled ‘National Carbon Disclosure Programme’ (NCDP) with the aim to minimise GHG emission from the manufacturing sector. NCDP encourages manufacturing companies to set emission reduction target and develop effective emission reduction action plan. NCDP aslo formulated a system to gauge the achievement and prepare Malaysia for further carbon emission reductions in the future.
Climate event plays an important role in the choice of location. Manufacturers would locate their manufacturing facilities in areas that are not prone to flood and storm. Other considerations include the availability of infrastructure such as power and water supply, transportation facilities and labour supply.
As manufacturing activities are profit driven business ventures, manufacturers find ways and means to save cost. This would spur the effort and investment in technology to improve the energy efficiency. One example is Fonterra Malaysia that has reduced energy usage by reducing air pressure in machinery and replace high-voltage light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. Hence, technology such as machinery and automation has been proven to reduce manufacturing effect to environment and, as result, climate change event can be reduced.
Climate change and the Agriculture Sectors
Agriculture practice causes climate change
Globally, the agriculture sector contributes 14% of GHG emission. The contribution to climate change from the agriculture in Malaysia is mostly through methane (CH4) emission. Most of the CH4 emissions are the result of continuous ﬂooding of irrigated rice areas. It is estimated that future emissions from rice cultivation will increase slightly due to production intensity and the increase of small new areas of rice cultivation. Fertiliser usage and livestock management also contribute signiﬁcantly to GHG emissions for this sector.
Climate Change Drawbacks
Climate change that causes unpredictable weather has a negative effect on the agriculture sector. Planting, harvesting and other agricultural activities would be difficult to schedule. Production would decrease. Changes in climate would decrease yields of rice by between 13% and 80%, and production of industrial crops, particularly oil palm, rubber and cocoa would decline by 10-30%.
Malaysia is an agriculture-based nation with at least one third of its population depends on the agriculture sector for their livelihood. About 14% work in farms and plantations. Approximately 39.2% of total land use or about 5.18 million hectares are planted with trees and crops like rubber, oil palm, cocoa, coconut, fruits and vegetables. In spite of this, Malaysian agricultural sector is unable to produce and supply sufficient food for its population. Malaysia has to import rice, fruits and vegetables from other countries. The negative effect of climate change on the agricultural sector would force Malaysia to import more.
Policy to Green Agriculture
Malaysia has formulated green agriculture practises to minimise her dependant on imported agricultural products. Its implementation would increase farm productivity and, at the same time, improve the quality of environment.
The enforcement of green agriculture practises by government would create awareness among the industry players to practise sustainable approach. At the same time, it educates the citizens to accept and consume green products. The introduction of Aquaculture Farm Certification Scheme (SPLAM) and Certification Schemes for Good Agricultural Practice (SALM) and Good Animal Husbandry Practice (SAL) would encourage good agriculture practice.
Technology & sustainable practices
Technology is one of the tools to make green agriculture possible. Technology encourages efficiency of resource usage. It also enables the agriculture sector to limit its GHG emission. Technologies such as aqua-ponic, bio-organic fertilizers and bio-control minimises the GHG emission. Technology also enables practises like organic farming, natural farming, crop rotation and inter-cropping to improve quality and quantity of agriculture products.
Proper set up of water control infrastructures and good water management, especially in the main granary areas, is estimated to reduce 30% of GHG emissions by 2015 from rice cultivation area as compared to conventional practices.
The use of alternative natural sources of nitrogen, especially bio-fertilisers or soil microbes, can reduce N2O emissions up to 5 to 10%. And, in the long term, it can also increase the carbon sequestered in soil which increases the soil organic matter.
Climate Change and the Forestry Sector
Forestry sector is an essential natural resource to Malaysia. It contributes significantly towards the country’s economy and environmental well-being. Forestry sector has contributed to the economic development by providing timber resources for the wood-based industry. In 2008, the wood-based sector earned RM22.5 billion and is predicted to expand to RM53 billion by 2020.
The effects of Climate Change
Climate change would have negative impact to forestry sector, especially in timber supply, and halt economic development. Climate change increases the possibility of Forest fires, insect outbreaks, wind damage, and other extreme incidents. It would cause the forest to lose its ecotourism aesthetic and recreational values, and reduce biodiversity and non-timber forest products.
Currently, Malaysia is covered by 18.48 million hectares of forest, which is 56% of her land area. Forests are known to act as CO2 sinks where carbons are being absorbed by plant from atmosphere as they grow and store some of the carbon throughout their lifetime.
Policy and Institutional Framework
Forestry in Malaysia comes under the jurisdiction of the respective state government that enacts laws and formulates forestry policy independently. The federal government assists by providing advice and technical assistance such as training, research and maintenance of experimental and demonstration stations. The cooperation between state and federal government is through the establishment of National Land Council to discuss and resolve common problems and issues relating to forestry policy, administration and management, as well as to ensure a coordinated approach in the implementation of policies and programs related to forestry.
The National Forestry Policy, 1978 (Revised 1992) and National Forestry Act, 1984 (Amended 1993) has been in place to encourage sustainable forest management with the objectives to conserve and manage the nation’s forest based on the principles of sustainable management. The National Forestry Policy was formulated and the National Forestry Act was enacted to protect the environment, biological diversity, genetic resources, and enhance research and education.
Since forestry contributes 17.4% of CO2 to global environment, mitigation for reducing greenhouse gas emission by forestry sector is required. Malaysia has taken this challenge by improving the sustainable forest management with the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Forest management practice in supportive of REDD+ is conducted with four main targets – (i) avoid deforestation through gazetting new Permanent Reserved Forests (PRF) and Central Forest Spine, (ii) implementing Forest Management Certification (MC&I), (iii) Conservation of forest by identifying Forest functional classes and mitigation measures during forest operation and (iv) enhancement of carbon stocks through enrichment planting, planting along skid trails, planting on log yards and 26 Million Trees Planting Campaign.
Climate Change and the ICT Sector
Information and communication technology (ICT) sector contributes 2% to 3% of CO2 emission. The emission is contributed both directly, that is ICT itself affecting to environment, and indirectly when the ICT acts as a tool for other activities. ICT sector is the fifth largest sector in global power consumption which is 8% to 9 % of the total consumption, and the value is expected to grow by 20% a year. In 2030, it is estimated that the world energy consumption will double because of the usage of ICT. In Malaysia, it is estimated that the government has spent RM120,000,000 on electricity for ICT operation. The negative part is, the ICT sector had generated 270,000 metric tons of CO2 emission to Malaysia’s environment.
Direct GHG emission of ICT is in Data Centre operation where the electricity usage is the largest contributor to direct environmental impact. Data Centre requires high electricity consumption to perform and, as a result, heat is being produced as a by-product. Large amount of energy is required to remove the heat from the facility. Therefore, improved Data Centre electricity and heat management are the most significant ways to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Information and communications technology (ICT) is always known as the enabler for other sectors improvement. Green ICT is a prospect in the effort to establish, stabilise and sustain a greener environment. By integrating ICT with green goals, greener environment to various sectors and industries could be achieved by indirectly reducing their ecological footprint.
As mentioned earlier, ICT sector is a sectors-enabler where greener environment can be achieved through “off ICT” (the development in ICT itself), and “by ICT” (the use of ICT as a tool). Generic ICT parts, components, equipment, green datacenter and cloud computing are the examples of “off ICT”, while “by ICT” encompasses e-Services such as e-Banking and e-Government, Unified Communications (virtual meeting ), Green ICT Practices and Other Green ICT Applications.
An example of green “off ICT” technology in Malaysia is the KeTTHA Green Data Centre where energy management has been improved and established. The KeTTHA data centre qualifies as “Green Computing Facility” due to its efficiency on power management. KeTTHA Green Data Centre (GDC) has complied with the standards set by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) where the measurement of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is 1.6. Other public data centres PUE readings are around 3.0 to 4.0. GDC KeTTHA has been awarded the platinum certificate by the Green Computing Initiatives (GCI) in October 2011.
“by ICT” technology is implemented to assist in major operation of other sectors. The best example of “by ICT” is the implementation of the monitoring system as it offers a more accurate forecast. The system has been used effectively in global climate change monitoring and water resource management. Water resource management covers elements such as mapping of water resources and weather forecasting.
Another example of “by ICT” is dematerialization approach targeted to meet the changes in citizen lifestyle through technology such as media online, e-commerce, e-billing and telecommuting.
Policy towards Green ICT
Malaysia is serious in her effort to become a green nation and the focus on Green ICT can be seen through her regulatory framework. Incentivize approach is applied as an encouragement to practice green ICT. Incentives are given for the adoption of green practices in all federal and state government offices, use of energy efficient products at data centers and the use of 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) by ICT companies. Green procurement policy and reviewing existing regulatory framework to legalize e-Document in court of Law has been established to promote green ICT.
Tax incentives are provided for green ICT users, while green ICT providers are given investment tax allowance. Financial assistance has been offered to companies that are willing to adopt green.
To penetrate international market and product promotion, the government encourages local entrepreneurs to choose green data centre services, conduct workshops and seminars on green ICT practices for targeted enterprises and consumers, and conduct road shows abroad to promote Malaysia as a shared service centre for teleworking services.
Climate Change and the Water Sector
The effect of Climate Change
It cannot be denied that extreme climate incidents almost always have major impacts on the water sector, especially water resources. The nature of these impacts is wide ranging and varied, including floods, droughts, saline intrusion and the loss of glaciers. And every one of these impacts invariably affects the fresh water supply to homes, agriculture and industry.
The IPCC report predicted that fresh water resources will decrease by 10 – 30% as a result of climate change. The report also projected that in 2080s more places will be flooded annually due to rise of sea level.
Malaysia has experienced high rainfall that leads to flood and causes failures of water control structures such as dams, barrages and bunds. Heavy rainfall increases the frequency of soil saturation and severe landslides. It accelerates soil erosion and causes soil degradation, scouring of drainage structures and sedimentation in rivers and reservoirs.
Policy and Water supply
Rain is the main source of water supply for Malaysia. Malaysia receives about 990 billion m3 of rain annually. Rivers and reservoirs supply 97% of the nation’s water demands, and forests play an important role as water catchment areas.
In order to ensure adequate and stable supply, Malaysia has taken serious action towards water management where action for implementation has been in place in 10th Malaysia Plan (RMK 10) and National Physical Plan (NPP). The implementation of the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) plan which includes integrated management of water resources, land resources, ecosystems and socio-economic needs would enable a more comprehensive approach towards reducing the vulnerability to climate change. Laws like the National Water Services Commission Act, 2006 (NWSC Act) and the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSI Act) are in place to promote sustainable water use and better water management which are crucial in adapting to climate change.
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans and their implementations have strengthened Malaysia’s ability to deal with ﬂoods and droughts. RMK10 and NPP have prioritised the restoration of rivers and waterfronts in cities, and flood mitigation plans and strategies.
Information sharing and networking has improved, especially with greater application of ICT. National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) has established the National Hydraulic Data Repository to store water related issues in digital format and make it more accessible, usable and exploitable. Through this, information regarding water issues including digital copies of tables, figures, charts and chapters from key water-related study are available are accessible.
Technology also has been applied for infrastructure improvements such as in the ‘Storm Water Management and Road Tunnel’ (SMART) which helps to address urban ﬂooding in Kuala Lumpur city, and the structural upgrade of Timah Tasoh Dam in the state of Perlis to increase storage capacity to alleviate water shortages.
Climate Change and the Waste Sector
Domestic and commercial wastewater treatment and industrial wastewater treatment processes contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. In waste sectors the main GHG produced is methane gas (CH4) which is derived from the landfill. While, other GHG such as nitrous oxide N2O derives from wastewater and CO2 from incineration of wastes that contain carbon.
Policy for Better Waste Management
In Malaysia, solid waste management is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government.
The amount of solid produced by Malaysian is alarming – 33,000 tonnes per day. This prompted the government to formulate the first comprehensive policy on waste management, the National Strategic Plan for Solid Waste Management, in 2005 (NSP 2005). The NSP 2005 proposes the formation of an integrated municipal solid waste management hierarchy that prioritizes waste reduction through 3R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle).
Then, Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) was enacted to empower the Director General of the Department of National Solid Waste Management to directly control solid waste management. A fine not exceeding RM1000 will be imposed on any person who is found guilty of contravening any section stipulated in the act, and manufacturers are compelled to take back their products or goods if they are found to be illegal under this act. Three concessionaries – Alam Flora Sdn. Bhd., Environment Idaman Sdn. Bhd. and SWM Environment Sdn. Bhd. – are appointed to manage solid waste in Peninsular Malaysia under this Act.
There are several ways to reduce GHG emissions from waste products. One: Minimise the amount of waste. But this would be difficult as urbanisation and increase population would definitely increase the amount of waste. Two: To divert the waste from entering landfill via option through recycling, thermal treatment and changing waste composition. Three: Via thermal treatment through incineration, gasification and pyrolysis technology.
In 10th Malaysia plan, the government has detailed the measures to reduce GHG by boosting the efficiency of solid waste management through building of materials recovery facilities and thermal treatment plants as well as recycling of non-organic waste.
Recycling is the lowest cost option in waste management. A study conducted by the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government in 2012 showed an increasing trend for recycling amongst Malaysian household, from 5% in 2005 to 9.5 % in 2012. However this is considered low as compared to the daily production of waste.
Thermal treatment – incineration, gasification and pyrolysis is costly but the most effective to reduce GHG emission. The government has planned to build three thermal large scale incinerators located at Taman Beringin, Kuala Lumpur; Bukit Payung, Johor; and Sungai Udang, Malacca.
Apart from reducing GHG emission, through the use of technology such as incineration (that can improve the sanitary landfill and reduce up to 75% GHG emission) energy can be recovered and generated. One of the incinerators, to be built in Kuala Lumpur, is targeted to generate electricity.
In the second national communication to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Malaysian government has estimated that by increasing the recycling rate from 5% to 22%, and by having more material recovery facilities and building more sanitary landfills, Malaysia would be able to reduce GHG emission from the waste sector by 25.5 % in 2020.
Implementation of policies and technologies has been proven to help sectors adapt and mitigate the climate impact. Effective policy brings better coordination, management and collaboration, while technology that improves efficiency creates less pollution. Government policy, correct application of technology, public awareness and education, and social responsibility from all sectors would together develop a greener nation. This is where Science to Action (S2A) is crucial to ensure that everyone is being mobilised towards fulfilling the beyond 2020 aspirations through Science, Technology and Industry.
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