PETALING JAYA: An environmentalist and an MP have castigated the environment and water minister for what they see as a feeble attempt to explain Malaysia’s exclusion from the Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change in the US later this month.
Subang MP Wong Chen and Andrew Sebastian, who is chief executive of the Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia, said Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man needed to explain what gave him the idea that Malaysia was “not categorised as a country vulnerable to climate change”.
Wong asked whether the minister was making his own assumption or quoting from a written explanation that the US government had given to Putrajaya.
He said at least part of Tuan Ibrahim’s statement was incorrect since Malaysia, like much of the rest of the world, was certainly at risk of being adversely affected by climate change.
He pointed out that the country had large coastal areas, which are vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels.
“There are also issues regarding the sustainability of our palm oil industry and we have an energy sector that is still heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants,” he told FMT.
Wong said the country still had some way to go to meet the targets outlined under the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius.
“The minister will do well to look into these matters seriously and make preparations for climate change,” he said.
Sebastian said he was “dumbfounded” that Tuan Ibrahim had made such a statement, especially when Malaysia was considered “one of the megadiverse countries of the world”.
“Our coral reefs, our islands, our mangroves are all very much affected by any change in the climate,” he said..
“It’s really surprising to see such a comment coming from the minister. I think we need to seek clarification on what he actually means.”
He said Malaysia’s exclusion from the summit showed that the government had to be more serious in protecting the country from environmental degradation.
The summit, to be hosted by US President Joe Biden, will take place online on April 22 and 23 and will feature world leaders from 40 countries.
Last month, the White House released a statement saying the invitees included countries “responsible for approximately 80% of global emissions and global gross domestic product”.
It added that the summit would also feature “heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy”.