Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 14 Nov 2022 – Early today, volunteers and activists from Greenpeace Malaysia delivered an important message to the nation’s future leaders by unfolding a 30m x 30m banner that read, “Vote4Climate” and “Undi Iklim” at historic Dataran Merdeka. As a last minute plea before the 15th General Election (GE15) , the activists hope to encourage fellow voters to choose candidates who will prioritise the climate agenda, especially as the world’s leading scientists say we have less than a decade left to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Greenpeace notes that environmental protection in Malaysia is still lacklustre . According to our research findings based on the parliamentary Hansard  over the last four years since 2018, representatives from all political parties have barely scratched the surface on environmental issues. Out of the 19,401 questions in parliament, only 8.4% (1,634) of environment-related keywords surfaced. The term ‘climate change’ or ‘perubahan iklim’ was only discussed less than 0.3% (55) of times. ‘Flood’ or ‘banjir’ was the third most mentioned keyword in our findings, with MP’s raising 350 questions mentioning ‘flood’. However, it is concerning to note that flooding was rarely attributed to climate change. Of the 350 questions mentioning ‘flood’, only 16 (4.6%) mentioned it alongside ‘climate change’.
Nur Sakeenah Omar, Greenpeace Malaysia Public Engagement Campaigner said:
“The focus of this election has dug up old news on representatives and party betrayals when it should be about what our nominated representatives have to show on the climate crisis front. Will the rakyat be betrayed by politicking instead of strong environmental policies that prioritise our health and safety?
“The climate crisis that continues to ravage the most vulnerable sectors of the region and its people through typhoons, floods and extreme heat waves, has taken away our choice of thriving and thrown us all into the beginnings of survival mode. However, as voters, we have the power to change this by making an informed decision to vote for climate action.”
The Greenpeace action took place as representatives from Malaysia, its biggest delegation so far, are currently at the UN Climate Conference of Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Malaysia hopes to focus on adaptation, climate finance and local solutions to tackle climate change. However, Greenpeace says that Malaysia’s climate agenda remains an ad-hoc patchwork of policies and legislations that appear to be cursory and focused on adapting instead of prevention through mitigation.
Thing Siew Shuen, Greenpeace Malaysia Senior Programme Manager said:
“Our climate change agenda is fragmented, environmental governance has been divided into different ministries. We need a legislative framework under a Climate Change Act for a Minister consolidating all relevant departments to be responsible for a holistic and comprehensive Climate Change Agenda that will cover both green (concerning biodiversity such as forestry) and brown issues (concerning human health such as air pollution) as well as Climate Change policies, such as, carbon tax, renewable energy.
“The government recently issued flood warnings for six states and territories over the weekend, including Penang, Selangor, Johor, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak- areas are at risk of flooding. Malaysia needs systemic solutions to address the recurring floods. People are now more vulnerable, our lives and property are at risk with every passing year.
“With the worsening effects of the climate crisis, we demand all political parties to take immediate action by including a Climate Change Act, Transboundary Haze Pollution or Clean Air Act, and the revising of our 1974 Environmental Quality Act into their election manifesto to improve our current environmental governance mechanisms and legal instruments, ensure air and water quality for the health of the nation. Following the Nov 19 polling date, our elected representatives must prioritise formulating and implementing these three Act， to make Malaysia safer, greener, and more resilient. We also urge the rakyat to vote for representatives who make commitments to environmental protection, and continue to join Greenpeace to pursue and demand the elected representatives to materialise their promises to safeguard our environment after the election.”
 Malaysia’s top environmental concerns according to Greenpeace:
- Air pollution and haze: The estimated 32,000 avoidable deaths that occur in Malaysia every year because of air pollution, with an approximate annual economic cost of MYR 303 billion — or 20% of the country’s GDP in 2019.
- Flooding: Approximately RM2.6bil cost in property damages alone in addition to the 55 lives claimed and 125,000 people affected due to the Dec 2021 floods in Malaysia. Moreover, the situation is expected to worsen this year with some areas already affected on 11 November 2022.
- Deforestation: According to Global Forest Watch, Malaysia lost 8.39 million hectares (Mha) of tree cover in Malaysia from 2001 to 2020, equivalent to a 29% decrease in tree cover since 2000 and 4.82Gt of CO2e (equivalents) emissions.
- Water pollution: Estimated cost RM10mil in 2019 for operation to clean Sungai Kim Kim.
 Greenpeace Malaysia’s Research Findings on environmental-keywords from Parliamentary Hansard.