By Ainin Wan Salleh, Free Malaysia Today (5 January 2022)
PETALING JAYA: An opposition MP has urged the government to allocate a minimum of RM400 million in its annual budget for climate change mitigation following the devastation caused by the recent floods.
Subang MP Wong Chen said half of the RM400 million could be used for scientific research and the other half for compensation to victims and projects to prevent floods, such as dredging clogged rivers and drains.
He said most of the amount could be raised from climate funds pledged by developed countries, although this would mean Putrajaya must be able to demonstrate that Malaysia was taking positive climate action.
“An area where we can do a lot of good is to control excessive logging and earn some carbon credits on retaining natural forests,” he told FMT. “We also need to manage our planted forests and natural forests better to minimise soil erosion and prevent flash floods.”
Asked how he derived the RM400 million figure, he said this was the number provided to him by government officers when he represented Malaysia at an Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly conference on climate change in 2019.
Wong, who is a PKR member, said Budget 2020 allocated RM450 million for various environmental programmes, but he noted that there was no specific fund for climate change.
“The government must have a specific budget item for climate change so that we can actually track and get clarity on the spending,” he said. “Not having one means we are not taking this as seriously as we should.”
He also said Malaysia might, by 2024, be ready for what he called “green budgeting” if Putrajaya were to reconfigure its environmental data collection this year.
Carmelo Ferlito of the Center for Market Education told FMT he believed both Budget 2022 and the 12th Malaysia Plan had a broad commitment to sustainability.
He said Malaysia should handle the issue of climate change in a non-ideological way by relying on competing panels of experts who would discuss not only the environmental targets but also its costs.
He acknowledged being apprehensive about the idea of green budgeting, saying it had to move in tandem with economic sustainability.
“A better approach is to incentivise research for solutions that look at sustainability from this perspective, environmentally and economically,” he said.