Kuala Lumpur – Will Budget 2024 be used effectively to tackle public safety concerns in relation to climate change? Better communication on details of the Budget 2024 plans are crucial for strong public discourse on what Malaysia needs moving forward. To achieve this, Malaysians need access to information and data transparency to improve governmental accountability on the progress and impacts of their initiatives. The question is top of mind for Greenpeace Malaysia as the government announces that nearly 4.3% of budget allocations are geared toward environmental and climate action, while expenditures are largely focused on repairs and incentives instead of nature-based solutions for climate mitigation.
Several points requiring greater public scrutiny include:
- Flood preparedness
While provisions for relief for vulnerable communities including farmers and fishermen, as well as slope repairs and drainage maintenance are commendable, the government fails to emphasise alternative financing such as disaster risk transfer mechanisms or nature-based solutions such as ecological restoration in high climate-risk areas.
- Application of Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in the National Energy Transition (NETR)
In budget 2024 the government has highlighted the application of CCUS, in the NETR. However, such technologies must be considered in the context of steps to phase out fossil fuel use and should be recognised as having a minimal role to play in decarbonisation of the energy sector. Over-reliance on CCS may result in making the existing non-renewable fossil fuel sources like coal, natural gas, petroleum seem to be possible to exist in our energy mix beyond the net zero 2050 target. Instead of depending on CCS technology to reduce emissions from existing oil and gas industries, the government should explore alternative approaches such as renewable energy and energy efficiency for a viable long term solution for responsible, democratic and sustainable energy transition. As a member of the Climate Action Network (CAN), Greenpeace Malaysia does not see CCS as a sustainable solution in reducing the carbon emission and eventually reducing the average global temperature.
- Sustainable palm oil initiatives
RM70 million was allocated for sustainable palm oil initiatives, including for campaigns to combat negative perceptions at the international level. We are worried these funds will be used for greenwashing rather than improving Malaysia’s sustainable palm oil performance in regards to deforestation, peatland conservation or peatland rehabilitation. Improving the core of Malaysia’s palm oil sustainability by assisting smallholders and holding financially capable corporations to stricter sustainability standards that follow No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation (NDPE) policies will achieve the same results of combating negative perceptions internationally. It will also meet the European Union Regulation on Deforestation-free Products’ (EUDR) due diligence requirements while providing Malaysian companies and government with data-based arguments to counter categorisations as a high-risk country (Article 29).
- Biodiversity Sukuk and carbon offsetting
RM1bil has been budgeted for Biodiversity Sukuk involving the replanting of degraded forests to incentivise corporations to participate in the Voluntary Carbon Market to generate carbon credits or offset their carbon emission footprint. The government will provide incentives to companies that engage in Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) for carbon projects, surely as an effort to increase projects and credit sold at the Bursa Carbon Exchange (BCX). However carbon offsetting initiatives like tree planting to generate carbon credits is window dressing and in part, greenwashing, as it incentivises the commodification of nature, while distracting from ecosystem destruction and acts as a licence for corporations to keep polluting through climate wrecking emissions. Carbon offsetting is the opposite of proven concrete actions to reduce emissions. Additionally, information about forest land and reforestation or replanting projects are not published directly on some state government websites for public accessibility to monitor the timelines, progress and outcomes of these forest conservation tree planting programmes.
We need data transparency and public communication to engage public understanding on the many initiatives proposed during the Budget 2024 announcement. In addition to concrete policies that truly incentivise businesses to work on conservation projects, the government should continue to align with a just transition away from our reliance on unsustainable and climate wrecking industries like fossil fuels. This includes creating new pathways for ‘green jobs’ such as the proposed forest rangers.