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Malaysia Focuses On Climate Change

The increase in global warming, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions has gained attention in various regions where there could be a severe impact on the lives of people and the existence of their nation as a whole. In Malaysia, the government announced a voluntary commitment to reduce 40% of CO 2 emissions by 2020 and are continuing efforts in 2023 to completely refurbish 100 government buildings. Existing buildings make a large contribution to energy consumption and CO 2 emissions which have been significantly cut since 2020, therefore refurbishing the remaining buildings is an essential strategy to achieve the commitment. There is no single assessment scheme for building refurbishment in Malaysia and hence, they have studied over10 assessment schemes from various countries: BREEAM, LEED, CASBEE, BEAM Plus, GBLS, Green Star, HQE, Green Mark, GBI and MyCrest.

The findings revealed fourteen themes that were considered for assessment: management , sustainable site, transport, indoor environmental quality (IEQ), water, waste, material, energy, pollution, innovation, economic, social, culture and quality of services. Energy and IEQ are dominant themes in all assessment schemes. Most of the schemes are considered relatively weak in evaluating economic and social aspects, in comparison to environmental aspects. The assessment of quality of services is overlooked in most of the schemes, including GBI and MyCrest in Malaysia. Malaysians fear the recent extreme events that took place around the world in the past three years alone.

The record-breaking heatwaves in America and Canada and the Middle East, the flash floods in Europe, Japan, China, and India, forest fires in Turkey, Greece, Siberia and Italy, and the U.S., and the flash floods in U.S. states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, California Colorado, Connecticut, Mississippi Oklahoma, and Texas. According to an article in the ASEAN Post, in the last two decades Malaysia has experienced 61 natural disaster events that claimed hundreds of lives lives, affected 3 million people costing the country around US $2.5 billion in damages.

The IPCC 2021 report revealed that average global temperatures have already become above 1.1C degrees warmer than they were between 1850 to 1900. We are on a trajectory to exceed the 1.5C threshold in less than 10 years, a temperature limit agreed upon in the Paris climate deal and a point where climate scientists believe irreversible changes to our climate will happen (Climate home, 2021).In January,2023 researchers at U.S. climate center Berkeley Earth found that Earth's long-term average temperature would hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by around 2030 and “2 degrees Celsius will be reached around 2050!The report finds that at 2 degrees Celsius warming, some places will see an increase in catastrophic heavy rainfall events compared to at 1.5 degrees warming, especially in the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes (Alaska/Western Canada, Eastern Canada/Greenland/Iceland, Northern Europe, Northern Asia).

The report studied 105,000 species of insects, plants and vertebrates. At 2 degrees Celsius warming, 18 percent of the insects, 20 percent of the plants and 10 percent of the vertebrates will see their climatically determined geographic range reduced by more than half.

In Malaysia, a related issue to climate change but less talked about is rapid urbanization. According to the article, urbanization produces an urban heat island effect (UHI) phenomenon, creating scorching temperatures, especially during the summer seasons, particularly in Kuala Lumpur.

Urbanization also leads to poor air quality and causing haze and pollution in cities. Malaysia also has an abysmal rating when it comes to having climate-resilient infrastructures, effective warning and evacuation systems to cope with extreme weather events. The article says that the country ranks second to the last in the Swiss Re Institute’s report, ‘The economics of climate change: no action, not an option.’This 2 degree celsius warmer world represents what scientists characterize as a profoundly disrupted climate with fiercer storms, higher seas, animal and plant extinctions, disappearing coral, melting ice and people dying from heat, smog and infectious disease. One quarter of the Northern Hemisphere and 17% of the Earth’s exposed land surface is supported by permafrost, that is ground with a temperature remaining at or below 0 °C for at least two consecutive years.

The thermal state of permafrost is sensitive to changing climatic conditions and in particular to rising air temperatures and changing snow regimes. This is important, because over the past few decades, the atmosphere in polar and high elevation regions has warmed faster than elsewhere8. Even if global air temperature increased by no more than 2 °C by 2100, permafrost may still degrade over a significant area. Such a change would have serious consequences for ecosystems, hydrological systems, and infrastructure integrity. Carbon release resulting from permafrost degradation will potentially impact the Earth’s climate system because large amounts of carbon previously locked in frozen organic matter will decompose into carbon dioxide and methane. This process is expected to augment global warming exponentially Despite this, permafrost change is not yet adequately represented in most of the Earth System Models that are used for the IPCC projections for decision makers.Perhaps to avoid widespread panic.


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