This Sunday the world celebrates Earth Day. It’s a global event, which sees activities taking place by people of all ages and backgrounds in the hope of raising awareness about the fragility of our planet.
And when so many voices come together at once, it’s bound to be loud.
This year is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day and organisers hope that individuals will call on their leaders to embrace renewable energy technology, improve energy efficiency, and make green ideas universally accessible…around the world.
Of course Malaysia is no different. There are events running up and down the country varying from themed educational events for children run by WWF-Malaysia to lectures on sustainability given by leading academics.
But the reality is that in Malaysia and indeed the rest of the world, businesses, governments and the public shouldn’t leave it to just one day a year when they think of the environment.
Thankfully the vast majority do not.
Indeed green technology and environmental awareness is booming in our country, with initiatives now being funded both at a Government level and through corporate responsibility programmes in the private sector.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui is at the heart of many of these initiatives.
He works closely with the Finance Ministry to ensure Government Procurement Policy is suitably green, and his department also gives advice to businesses on how they can be best help the environment.
“Low carbon development is vital towards achieving green growth, and low carbon economy and businesses must take positive steps towards greening their business processes using sustainable consumption and production,” he says.
Earlier this year it was reported that Malaysia was ranked 25th out of 132 as one of the top nations on the Environmental Performance index. And with so many green construction projects helping to develop the country’s infrastructure, it’s easy to see why.
To help these projects on their way, various tax incentives are being proposed to encourage the use of green technologies on a wider scale.
The Government already provides tax deductions for developers who meet the specifications of Malaysia’s Green Building Index and talks are under way over the feasibility of lowering import duties for the materials they use.
Even the Prime Minister’s own office in Putrajaya is being upgraded to make it more eco-friendly in the hope that leading by example will cause others to follow.
The Government recently announced that it is considering including wind and thermal as sources for the country’s renewable energy needs – with wind power alone expected to achieve 50,000MW per year.
Last year’s Renewable Energy Act 2011 saw plans for a cut of some 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. And the Government hopes that through the creation of 50,000 jobs Malaysia can reap not only the environmental benefits, but some RM70 billion in additional revenue as well.
And it’s not just utilities that need to think green.
The Government and Proton are working together on the Fleet Test Vehicles Programme, which develops and tests green technology in cars. They hope that by 2020, between 10 and 15 percent of cars in the Malaysian market will be electric.
And with encouragement from the top, like the Prime Minister’s speech this week on encouraging innovation in the country, there is every opportunity for more barrier-breaking technology to be developed.
Chin recently backed this up by calling for smarter partnerships between the Government, industries and research institutions, as well as a more efficient transfer of knowledge from developed nations.
“There should be more collaborations and partnerships with foreign industries in which Malaysia can be a test bed for the implementation of new technologies.”
Other countries rushed ahead in the 20th century and developed without looking forward to the impact it would have. Ironically, the slight delay for Malaysia now puts us in a good position not to make those same mistakes.