An adaptation plan without a mitigation plan is like pouring the water out of a flooded bathroom without closing the tap.

Kuala Lumpur: Greenpeace Malaysia welcomes the recent announcement of the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the government will formulate a National Adaptation Plan (MyNAP) relating to the impact of climate change. The effects of climate change are causing significant economic losses for Malaysia, undermining infrastructure and development efforts and impacting livelihoods. We saw this last December 2021 with flooding in several states that claimed 55 lives, affected 125,000 people, left 50,000 cars damaged and broken down, and led to about RM2.6 billion in property damages. To address these challenges and move towards becoming climate-resilient, the government must also prioritise a transition to a low carbon economy.

This means not just climate adaptation but reducing or preventing emission of greenhouse gases by curbing use of fossil fuels and shifting to renewable sources of energy. Without clean energy sources, even the proposed use of electric vehicles (EV) will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions effectively.

A recent study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Greenpeace Malaysia reported that in 2019 alone, Malaysia lost almost RM303 billion (US$73 billion) due to ambient air pollution, mostly from power plants and industrial activities. Even worse, it is estimated that 32,000 people die every year due to air pollution in the country. But these deaths can be avoided. Climate Change Mitigation will enable authorities to implement more ambitious targets and policies for cleaner air.

Mitigation also entails making older equipment and buildings more energy efficient, changing management practices and consumer behaviour as well as redesigning urban spaces and transportation systems. It will require both the state government and local government to scrutinise town and urban planning, state structure plans, local plans, and even building design such as lighting and temperature regulation systems.

Furthermore, we need to stop deforestation and restore our natural habitats for critical carbon capture ability. Studies have also linked deforestation to increased flooding in Malaysia, and the latest KL city plan audit revealed that development projects have been causing increased flash floods and congestion. These highlight the urgent need to not only end deforestation, but also increase reforestation efforts and strengthen urban planning to ensure more city vegetation is protected and expanded.

Malaysia needs both Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plans – they are both equally important. An adaptation plan without a mitigation plan is like pouring the water out of a flooded bathroom without closing the tap. The less we choose to mitigate today, the more people will suffer and adaptation will become costly and ineffective in the future.