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Policy Urgency To Address Malaysia's Climate Emergency?

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change

02-May-23 08:00

Policy Urgency To Address Malaysia's Climate Emergency?

The United Nations has warned that the world is at risk of exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit for global warming in the next 10 years. How is Malaysia responding to the climate crisis? We speak to Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change on progress to reduce carbon emissions, the timeline for tabling the National Adaptation Plan and concerns over environmental data transparency.


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Good morning, you're listening to the Breakfast Grille. I'm Syazana Mokhtar. The science couldn't be more clear. The world is running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius with un scientists warning that we could breach this target in the 2030s without urgent action.

The house is on fire. So how is the Malaysian government responding to the climate change? Alarm bells? Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister of Natural Resources Environment and climate change? Joins me on the show today to discuss this. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Nik. Welcome to the show. Hi, thanks for having me here. I'm going to put you on the spot. Is Malaysia facing a climate emergency?

Well, definitely, I mean, we, we see it every day. We see it with the floods that we have that keep breaking records year after year and we see it with the incoming heat wave that we're having now. So definitely we are facing a climate emergency like other countries in the world. Ok. So you have taken a different position from the previous government. The national government said there wasn't a need yet to declare a climate emergency as efforts were being taken to combat climate change. In this sense, you're departing from their stance, Malaysia is facing a climate emergency. Well, in substance. Yes. But what I'm saying, you know, I think what was asked by the previous, on the previous government was for the government to declare a climate emergency in law with that? I think that, you know, I I I think that we don't have to declare a legal climate emergency. It was declared in law in the UK and nothing much has happened. What is more important I think is to understand about how big the climate situation is and to address it rather than, you know, putting us to certain standards that may be, you know, that, that are false or provide an illusion. Ok. At the same time, you acknowledge there is a climate emergency of sorts, but you have also postponed the climate change bill which was a piece of legislation that was on the cusp of being tabled by the the national government. If not for GE15, you push that back another 2 to 3 years. Why has this bill been delayed similar to having, you know, about declaring us having a climate emergency? I do not want us to just tick the boxes without having a significant or substantial uh meat to the legislation. So, with regards to the Climate Change Act, and I, I know uh my, my predecessors, a few generations back Yeo Bee Yin,

Uh she did put some work into it, you know, and, and it was uh uh what do you call that progressing at good pace? However, when I came into office, I didn't get much on the table uh from my immediate predecessors. Uh So, you know, for me, you know, I do not want to just rush a Climate Change Act this year.

Uh And seeing that it does not address many of the things that we want to address. Um Actually, we have many legislations that are existing that can address climate change, uh that we can work on, make it more effective, which is, is I think uh as important as having a Climate Change Act in place. So you tweeted back in February this, that we want a bill that's not toothless, that is comprehensive and that will be truly impactful what was lacking in the draft bill that warrants a complete overhaul from your perspective. I think I've said it often enough that uh I did not get anything from my predecessor.

So, so now, you know, the team, that's why you're starting from scratch. Yes. Um You know, so I'm, I'm asking the officials at the ministry and and you know, for us to have a, to have a really thorough look at the legislation to really consult widely um to see how other countries are doing uh the the legislation and also to have a proper engagement with the various stakeholders, civil society, um academia, businesses to see when the bill comes out, it will be truly comprehensive. So at this point, do you have, I suppose a vision of sorts, Nik in terms of what you think should be in this bill or what you want it to encompass?

I think there are two key elements um in terms of carbon emissions. Uh it's something that we really need to address. Uh but you know, as a country, we do not emit that much, we emit about 0.69% of the carbon emissions globally. We are doing quite well compared to many other countries at our stage of development and our size of economy. However, we are also, we also have to play our part. I mean, that's very crucial.

And secondly, we are a trading nation as we know many um E N E companies, for example, are putting stringent climate goals. So if we do not uh have uh ambitious climate goals, then we, you know, our industries will be hollowed out in the next 5, 10 years. That's one. Uh but the other part which is just as important is things like adaptation and mitigation.

Um I think that is more urgent for Malaysia. We are a country, a maritime country. Basically, we've seen the floods, we've seen sea level rise, we've seen erosion happening.

Um So I think those are things that we need to address in the Climate Change Act to ensure that we are able to, you know, survive, you know, when, when it comes to not just 2050 2030. All right, ambitious climate change targets. That that's what you mentioned carbon targets. So Malaysia has clear goals for climate mitigation that were submitted to the United Nations

as part of our National Determined Contribution N D CS. We updated that in 2021 we're going to reduce the intensity of carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Some parties would argue that our N DC targets are not ambitious enough, reducing carbon intensity by 45% of 2005 levels can be done without actually lowering emissions. How would you respond to that?

Well, I think one of the concerns um in fact, I mean, there are two sides to the argument. Some people also said that, you know, we put that target unconditionally many other countries when they have their submissions to the N DC on reduction of carbon intensity, it was conditional but we, you know, we gave it away. But I think, you know, it is what it is and, and I think we will be reviewing it uh in the next few years. Um So I think as long as we, we, we stick to that plan,

um I think we are in good state because um actually many of our targets are very ambitious compared to our neighboring countries, even the more advanced ones. Um But the issue is not about targets alone, it's about the pathways to achieve those targets. You know, it's like, you know, going a, a student going and declaring to his parents, I'm going to get 10 A in S PM and not studying, you know, or or not working for it.

So the targets I think is there is about working and finding the pathways to achieving those targets. So just to clarify, uh Malaysia has also pledged to become net zero at the earliest by 2050 this was announced by the Ismail Al Sabri government and this is a pledge that the present government also intends to stick to. Yes. Yes. Ok. Um

One of the key pieces of Malaysia's climate mitigation strategy is the transition to renewable energy which the government targets to reach 40% generation capacity by 2035. My question for you, Nik is, can this be achieved without first dismantling the fuel subsidies that are keeping energy prices artificially low? For Malaysians? At the, at the moment,

I think the shift to uh targeted subsidies is crucial for us to jumpstart our energy transition. And we've started that, you know, one of before one month in office. Uh My first task was to uh have the review for the next IC P T cycle where we, where we increase the surcharge um for industries for commercial sectors which were using uh which were medium and high voltage users in the energy sector.

Uh by what, 400% right from, from uh all the way to 20 cent. Um it still subsidized. Uh but it's a huge increase from what it was. Uh And, and I think, uh and there was a lot of complaints, uh, understandably and, but I also think that industries, businesses need to understand that we have uh given a blanket subsidy for so long, you know, and many of these uh businesses have enjoyed that. Right.

So, uh complaints, yes. Um a lot of noise in the media but uh ultimately, you know, I met a few of them after a few months and, and now they have adopted uh energy efficiency plans. They are using more solar. Uh And I think just because it's uh priced nearer to the market and people understand that and I think um the plan is not just for the industries and commercial sector, the non-domestic sector, but also for the domestic uh consumers for the, at least we can start with the T 20. I mean, if you are using, uh if you're having a bungalow, a landed house with 10 air cons, you know, dryers and what not, you should be paying a market rate for your electricity. I mean, that's something that we, we, we, we want to work on, right. Um So, so that's part of it, the energy efficiency and Conservation Act is it has been in the works, I think even during the Naps administration, we hope to pass it this year. So I think that will be another important impetus towards energy transition.

Uh And, and yes, as you rightly said, the next other part, the other part is electrification of mobility of, of transport. Um And we also need to address where now you know, if you are using regardless, I mean, even people who are using the most expensive cars uh are now using route 95 for example, because it subsidized,

it's cheaper. So I think we also need to address that towards targeted subsidies so that then people will make that transition towards electric vehicles as well. Does the fuel subsidies? Does that come under your portfolio? As an R E C C Minister? I mean, do you have influence over what happens? Input will be there? But it's led by the Ministry of Finance and

uh Ministry of Domestic Trade. And yeah, ok. I'm speaking to Nik Nazmi, Nik Ahmad, Minister for Natural Resources Environment and climate change is Malaysia doing enough on climate adaptation. We'll have more on the Breakfast Grilleafter the break. Stay tuned. BFM 89.9,

you are listening to the breakfast grill brought to you by you Mobile 5G. Now with you.

Thanks for staying tuned to the breakfast grill. I'm Syazana Mokhtar. And with me on the show today is Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, minister for Natural Resources, Environment and climate change. Nik. Earlier on in the show, you mentioned the energy efficiency and Conservation Act, which you said has been long in the works. Why is this a priority for the government now?

Well, because there's two sides to, to when we talk about energy, one is about having cleaner sources of energy generation, right? Uh We still have a lot of coal, for example, gas is low carbon but its still carbon. Um we want more solar and all that. So that's one element of it and, and that takes time,

but the other element is energy efficiency. Uh because um we, we also know that actually um with new technology, a lot of equipment, a lot of uh uh machines and stuff are getting more and more efficient in terms of using energy. Um the electrical appliances that we use today are much more efficient in terms of using energy compared to what our grandparents were using. For example,

the UK over the past 20 years, the energy consumption has gone on the downtrend, right? So if we can do that, that means we require less energy and, and that means we, we do not have to rely so much on, on the uh coal and gas plants that we have today. And, and you know, we also have enormous uh reserve margins for electricity. So that will definitely help in our energy transition.

Nik is the introduction of an energy efficiency and conservation Act. A prerequisite of sorts to secure renewable energy transition deals with developed countries. I wonder, I understand that most of our neighbors have some form of energy efficiency regulation in place. And last year, both Indonesia and Vietnam concluded finance partnerships with rich countries to advance their green energy agenda. Is that part of the reason why you want to push this? Now,

I I, you know, if you ask me, it's not just because of that. Um I think um if you talk, I mean, definitely we would love to be part of uh you know, all these lucrative deals um for us to accelerate our energy transition. Um I mean, if anyone can help us to have now our commitment is no new coal plants, but if we can have uh early retirement of coal plants with the right uh structure in our energy sector, with the right financing.

Um whether it comes from overseas or from the banks and whatnot, it's something that we'd be happy to consider, right? Um But I think why, why we missed out was um and, and we actually have a lot of good policies and plans but maybe it was not communicated or marketed enough before. Um And I have spoken uh you know in cabinet, I've spoken to the Prime Minister that I think this is something that

it has to be central. And I think definitely, you know, the the Prime Minister has understood this. Uh we had a lot of things for my ministry in this budget 2023. So the government understands how important climate change is and and we hope that that that can be the key plank for the an Ibrahim administration. Ok. So there's definitely going to be more foreign policy outreach when it comes to the

green energy agenda and the green agenda in general, I want to stick to energy a little bit more. The appointment of Mohammad Radan Moma Yusuf as chair of the Energy Commission in February did spark backlash given his then position as the Deputy managing Director of Gamuda Gauda is of course a major player in the renewable energy space. He has since resigned two months after he was first appointed. I mean, was this the result of the Prime Minister's intervention?

No, I mean, uh you know, in the first place, uh obviously we did our checks and what not. Uh There are a few things that we have to correct. Dauda is not a major major renewable energy player. They have a small investment

uh in uh renewable energy. They are mostly uh construction uh property player and most of their revenues come from abroad. Uh But what, what, what was uh and I think the most important thing. Um Yes, as you rightly said, I think a lot of people were expecting him to design from S T but it was just a narrative that people wanted to create.

Uh But uh rash, he, he made the choice to his credit that he, he was excited about contributing to this and, and I think, surprised a lot of people by resigning, not from S D but from Gamuda.

Um And, you know, he has a long record of, of um being able to shake up um markets, being able to uh do uh various uh corporate uh restructuring that has uh left uh you know, it was really radical corporate restructuring, which I think uh uh has shaken up the market. And I think

as that's why we wanted him there. You know, that's why we, we put him there was because he uh I, I believe that we can do better in terms of energy transition and, and we need to have a more uh you know, uh focus uh view on this and, and Rash is the right person for this

is that you've specified to him that you want to see him achieve in his post as the chair of the Energy Commission. Well, well, right now, you know, we, we under my R er we our renewable energy road map, we have targets of installed capacity for R E 31% as opposed to 24% present me

31% in 2025 40% in 2035. Um But as I've said, if there are ways to accelerate that, if there are ways we can look at uh uh you know, to really ramp up solar uh to get uh Malaysia to play a central role in the ASEAN power grid.

Um You know, we are already supply, we are already, our grid is already supplying electricity from Laos to Singapore. For example, you know, we should be able to be at the center for ASEAN. Once all the interconnections are there, um the looking at reviewing our ban on renewable energy exports, you know, so all these things are things that are the K P I s for for rush to achieve. Ok. So very full inbox tray

and passing it on to him. I would like to turn our attention to the other side of the climate change action coin which is adaptation. How would you respond to accusations that the government is doing far too little to address climate resilience? The policy focus has been very much on mitigation on reducing carbon emissions as evidenced by the many blueprints on low carbon aspirations. When will the government present the Malaysia National Adaptation plan?

Well, our uh we've just submitted our proposal to G C F, the Green Climate Fund uh to prepare the National Adaptation Plan N A P uh on 27 March this year. Uh and it is going to focus on water security and water resources, agriculture and food security,

uh infrastructure, energy and environment, forest biodiversity, and public health. So yes, as I said, um you know, in truth, a lot of the things about carbon emissions and what not, we are a very small player in the big sum of things, right? Uh We, we, you know, other countries are contributing far, far more to that and, and even if we play our part and they don't, you know, we'll still be underwater by 2050.

Uh But adaptation is then plays a very key role because we have more control over that.

Uh We've seen the floods, we've seen what's happening. Um With regards to every uh uh places that have never been flooded are now experiencing floods. Um erosion. I've seen, you know, roads in, in the east coast, in the west coast where they are now disappearing because of uh erosion. So I think um adaptation plays a very key role and, and definitely, it's one of our focus and I think one of the things that we keep repeating on,

um yes, we need to do the, the, the carbon emission side and all that because of yes, we want to play our part. Secondly, we are a global trading uh player. But adaptation is the priority. Uh if you want to talk about survival for our Children and their Children.

So the previous government cited that Malaysia would need funding to the tune of 400 billion ring to overcome flooding issues until the end of this century. This is just for flooding is that the quantum that you have in mind as well in terms of what's going to be needed to invest in adaptation measures.

Well, you know, if you want to talk about adaptation as a whole, it might be even more, right? Um but yeah, I mean, that's based on one study uh um that, that has been cited and, and definitely, you know, we are spending more and more uh for flood mitigation uh for adaptation. Uh We are also going to come up of uh flood hazard maps and whatnot so that it can be built in, in, in insurance. So, you know, basically the, the the country has to move uh has to transition towards this.

Um The B and I think, you know, when, when some people look at it as a huge cost um is the biggest portion of my ministry, for example, uh flood. Uh But if you then calculate how much losses, ultimately loss of life, but also loss of property loss to the economic sectors.

If there is. Uh I mean, when we see a sea level rise, our biggest uh port Port Clan will be totally exposed. Uh And what's the impact to our supply in the country? Right? Uh getting food, getting vital uh goods in

uh our power plants and a lot of them are near the, the sea as well. Uh What will happen to them? So these are things that we have to recognize and, and then you will understand that the huge expenditure is actually affordable once you look at it because we are going to save much more when we spend on adaptation and mitigation. Ok. I think um many,

I agree with you, Nik, I think that we do need to see more funding being sent to adaptation. But the point is we're not seeing it yet. So when will the government, I suppose put these efforts in motion, when will we see on the ground, the adaptation efforts take place? Well, I think um some of the, you know, flood the projects that are addressing floods and whatnot. I mean, that's already there. Uh But um I think the key part will definitely be uh when we have the National Adaptation plan because that will be

uh you know, the, the, the focus for all our adaptation uh programs and projects. When will this be tabled? Um Well, we, we are working on it. I mean, as I said, it's been submitted to the uh to the G C F. So hopefully, uh we can uh you know, once we go through the various um stakeholder discussions because we want the input

uh from the grassroots, from the activists, from various stakeholders. Uh Then uh you know, then we can uh then we will uh make it as an official policy? Why has it taken so long for adaptation to be made a priority by the government? Do you think Nik? I mean, people would say this is, this is late, we are very late in coming up with this adaptation plan. Um What gives,

well, you know, um I do not want to blame predecessors or whatnot, but I think sometimes, like I said, I mean, it, it becomes sexy to talk about uh carbon emissions because it's there. And, you know, some, a lot of times our energy uh sorry environment conversations are driven by what's been talked about in the developed countries. Um And obviously, I mean, I understand why, why, you know, they want to talk about carbon emissions, they are the major polluters, right?

Uh They've cut down the forest for 2, 300 years and they've developed at our expense, but people don't want to talk as much about adaptation. Um because it's something that is more relevant to a maritime developing country like Malaysia.

Um And, and I think, uh you know, sometimes you, you do get, you, you get uh you, you're stuck with the narrative that's been played in the developed countries. And I think we need to understand that every country's climate challenge differs. Uh you know, when you are a developed economy, when you're a big polluter compared to a developing country, which is um a peninsula and part of an island, right? So that, that's the context that we have to understand.

I'm speaking to Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, minister for Natural Resources, environment and climate change on an extended edition of the breakfast grill after the 8 30 AM news bulletin is Malaysian policy making being held hostage by state elections. Stay tuned. BFM 89.9.

You are listening to the breakfast grill brought to you by you Mobile 5G. Now with you, you are listening to an extended edition of the breakfast grill. I'm Syazana Mokhtar. And with me today is Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister for Natural Resources Environment and climate change. Now, Nik earlier on, we were talking about adaptation and adaptation measures that Malaysia is taking. I would like to touch on forestry measures because unchecked development and deforestation have been cited as among the key reasons for the increased severity of flooding and higher incidents of landslides. Now, we know that forestry management is under state government purview. But what levers do you have in the federal government? What are you using to maintain oversight on what's happening at the state level?

Yeah. So um when you are at the federal level, we have uh we do coordinate between the state governments. We have, we have Biodiversity Nagara which recently said uh we have the Malaysian Climate Change Action Council which is chaired by the Prime Minister. So uh a, so those are the platforms that we have uh with uh the state governments um in order to uh coordinate uh policies uh and also to share targets and best practices. Uh So what, what we try to do is um you know, you know, there, there are various things, for example, now, you know, when, even when there's a palm oil, for example, we have uh you know, sustainable palm oil certification, uh even for forest management. So that is an encouragement for them to conform because in order for them to have access to the widest markets, then they have to meet those targets. Um And most, I would say most states do meet those targets.

Um And to be to the credibility of the standards when they don't, they are penalized. I mean, they are taken out uh the, the from the certification. Um but rather than just sort of a stick approach, uh you know, uh we also uh we also have uh what you call the incentives carrots, for example, which has been there since 2019 is the ecological fiscal transfer. How effective has this mechanism been?

Well, uh you know, the, we, we do see um states because the main complaints when you talk about states that, that tend to have problems. I mean, I'm generalizing but it tends to be the states when, where they do not have a big uh commercial or industrial sector. So they rely on exploitation of forests. Um and they, they, they also tend to be the ones with the biggest forest covers. So they rely on exploitation of forests in order to uh for, for revenue.

Um So they say, OK, you are giving us all these lofty targets and all that. But what's in it for us? And they are, it's, it's a bread and butter issue as well. I mean fair to them.

So, so we say, OK, you know this uh E F T it was 60 million Ring Gate when it was launched in 2020 19. Then the last two years, it was 70 million ring gate each year. And now the Prime Minister has increased it to 100 and 50 million ring gate. But what's the take up is this actually going to state government is sitting in a bank somewhere? They, they all go to states. Um We look at uh one is the size of the forest cover

uh but also what they are doing uh in terms of uh if, if they do add uh their, their uh permanent uh forest reserves, uh what they're doing for, for uh the uh the dilapidated forest, what are they doing to restore it? So there are a few criterias uh that we look into and we are trying to make it even more sophisticated so that uh you know, it's not just giving free money but it's conditional. Um And, and to encourage good behavior, I think that that's the most important thing.

Um But yeah, I mean, the problems are there definitely, for example, uh was the only state that had a public consultation uh for the gaze of Forest. It was there in the enactment then last year, the previous government adopted that for the National Forestry Act amendment. Uh Unfortunately, after that, only one other state has adopted that as well. The others have yet to do so. So because that the state legislation in order to, to uh exercise that we have to keep reminding them

that, you know, you have to do that and, and it will eventually reflect, I mean, some of them now want to go into carbon trading and what not. If you don't do that, it will have an impact into the credibility of your carbon assets and so on and so forth. OK. So I can see that there is continuous engagement with the state governments on the initiative that they're taking on forestry management. Now there has been excellent investigative journalism by

Malaysian organizations like Rainbow Watch and Makara on the gaps in forestry data, including differences between what satellite images show and what's in official records of land use. How are you addressing questions of government credibility when it comes to environmental data?

Yeah, I mean, I, I think uh it's also an issue of sometimes an issue of definitions. OK. Uh I mean, I, I, I, I came up with a very open statement, you know, listening to and I, I in fact met, met uh with most of these NGO or or institutions listen to their concerns. Um Sometimes it's also an issue of how we can communicate better.

Uh But yeah, for example, one of the major issues is whether forest plantations should be deemed as uh you know, forests at all. Um and, and we know that there's a problem states like for example, or even other states have issues with uh uh forest uh uh plantations and what we have been doing. Um You know, the the previous Prime Minister uh to his credit, he has uh put a moratorium on forest plantations because what happens is that it's supposed to repair dilapidated forest, then you're supposed to have uh you're able to have selective uh forestry uh exploitation over the next 30 years or something.

But some often it goes to virgin forest and they just want the timber and then the replanting doesn't happen or it happens very slow or it's just uh mono species or, or foreign species that's been planted because it's, it's actually forest plantation can be very, very expensive if you want to do it, right. Uh So the moratorium was the right move and I think we really need to address uh to, to see um what can be done to address the damages that has been done by forest plantations. And so that's something that is in the works. Um So, and, and that adds to the discrepancy, the gaps in the data that's been raised by, by watch and and what the government has. OK. So this is something you're aware of, you're looking into it. Why can't data be more transparent? Nik? I think that's some of the things that these organizations are calling for, for this data to be made public so that more parties can scrutinize this.

Uh Is that something that you are considering doing? Well? It's, that's the ideal uh you know, we have three forest Agencies, Saba and um and then, as I said, in terms of uh the jurisdiction is actually state jurisdiction, although JP S M is the body but then um you know, is in charge of its forest, is in charge of its forest and so on. So in that process, uh there is uh some uh mismatch of data as well. Um And, and I think um I mean, it's an ongoing process, it won't be easy. You know, when, I mean, uh when, when you want to talk about integrating uh government data um across the various levels of government uh across various agencies, it can be difficult. Um I mean, to be fair, I mean, even the government now we do use, I mean, we also use satellite. We, we also use uh to look at the problems of deforestation and what not. So we are also taking into account of all the data that's being used by other agencies, Penang South Islands.

Uh Nik, let's talk about that. The Penang South Islands reclamation project received approval for its environmental impact assessment report last month, subject to 71 conditions. I haven't been able to find the E I A decision in the public domain. What are these conditions? It's actually in the website. Uh you can download it. Um But you, it's actually accessible uh in the website. Um uh What,

what I can say is that uh you know, it is a process, it's not that I personally approve or reject the report. How much say do you have over this E A, I had a few things. Um, I mean, I met, uh, I, I, I listened to the case of the state government, you know, um, I, I also listen to uh the concerns that were raised against the project but it has its own process, it has its own board, uh that, that actually approves it.

Uh, it's not an arbitrary thing where even the, I mean, that's, and that's how it should be, you know, it shouldn't be on one person to approve or disprove a project and, and to be fair, you know, it has gone through a long process. Um, it was approved what, 2018 and then, uh 2019 and then an appeal came in. Um, so the E I A was rejected, I think in 2020 or 2021. And then, um

whenever then the state, uh the project, the state authorities came out with uh the plan. Um, the, the, the uh related authorities had some concerns, you know, it was all addressed one by 11 by one.

So it was a very comprehensive process. It took many, many years. Uh And, and I think that's why has this process been transparent enough because you yourself talked about how E I A reporting sometimes isn't transparent in the case of the Penang South Islands. It has it been trans, I mean, it's one, as I said, it's one of the most transparent and comprehensive uh processes for E I A that has been, that has happened. OK. That, that's one.

But uh what, what the other thing that we have to bear in mind, even the approval was granted with 71 conditions. It's not a blank check and they still is still subject to the uh environmental Management plan. E MP being approved. It has not been approved, right? So there's a few more stages to go as well just because the A I A was conditionally approved, doesn't mean that, you know, it's all

uh that they can do what they want there. OK. So what are you going to do then to ensure that there's proper oversight on the project implementation? Well, you know, like I said, you know, we, we will uh the, the E MP, the E MP will be looked into, we will ensure that uh what you call that uh the, the project can satisfy all the 71 conditions.

Um And you know, there's still, I mean, people can still appeal if they want to appeal against the E I A approval, even though it's conditional. Uh people can still go to the state government uh that approves and, and you know, they have that process through the local government route. So there are various routes that they can use uh for anyone who is unhappy with the project.

So Nik, here's the conundrum of the dilemma that I see the Penang South Islands project can be used as an example of the policy incoherence perhaps in terms of our climate change action. So on one hand, we have these goals of having adaptation, ensuring climate resilience of uh you know,

2050 0 net zero targets. But at the same time, we are also green lighting, these projects which will cause massive carbon emissions which will destroy the marine biodiversity of the area. How do you reconcile these very two disparate uh I guess aims? No, I mean, even if you look at the report, there is an impact ultimately on some shrimp migration on fisheries. Yeah, but if you look at details, yeah, most of it has been mitigated

and we have to accept that unless we do not want to grow as an economy, then uh we can stop all development. Uh But that's always the balancing game that we have to recognize. I accept that there has to be sustainable development, but development is there and it has to be sustainable, right? And balancing that is not an easy job, I can recognize that.

Um And, and you know, I said this like the thing, it was uh it was submitted, it was approved in 2019

initially, right? And then it was uh uh the the the what they call that uh the appeal against it was accepted. So they had to go back. So the process was very rigorous. Um And with 71 conditions with many agencies, Fisheries, um there was a social impact as assessment done. Also things that are outside environment, traffic impact assessment,

all those things were submitted. Uh So I think, you know, it was a very, very thorough process and, and I, that's how it should be done in the sense that any development process cannot be given as easily as it was before, it has to be looked thoroughly. Uh

But it's something that we have to recognize that there will be uh uh what do you call that? There will be things that we have to give and take in any decision. But as much as possible, I would like, you know, the development has to be sustainable, right? We have one minute left on the clock Nik, but I can't let you go without

making some reference to the political situation in the country. We're heading into state elections in the next six months, if not sooner. Is this a primary consideration in policy making for the government? Are you holding off on the tough decisions until after the polls to avoid risking the disenchantment among the voting public? No, I think uh for us it's what's best for the country. Um Obviously you have to be smart at communicating it. Obviously you have to listen to and engage with the stakeholders.

Uh That's the political reality. Uh You, you have to be tactical about those things. But the big picture for us if we need to do something now, um it's a bit difficult then we will do it now because it's uh if it's necessary, Nik. Thank you very much for joining me on the show today. Thank you. Thank you very much. I've been speaking to Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and climate change. This has been the Breakfast Grille on BFM 89.9.

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Categories:  governmentenvironment

Tags:  climate change policynational adaptation plannik nazmipenang south islands projectforest management





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