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Too early to celebrate lower environ pollution
Date 30-Mar-2020 | Category | Author Nation, The Star Online


PETALING JAYA: Environmental activists warn that it is still too early to cheer despite air pollution having abated during the movement control order (MCO) period following the decline of emissions from transport and industrial activities.

They are saying that the current absence of pollution may only be temporary if there is no proper enforcement and policy or environment-friendly incentives.

Global Environment Centre director Faizal Parish said there was a significant reduction in emissions from transport and industrial activities as well as improvement in river water quality in the Klang Valley, with less industrial and food waste entering waterways.

“We also realise that we can do more online, rather than continually travelling and having meetings.

“We hope that after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, we will maintain these steps to reduce our carbon footprint, ” he said.

He pointed out however that some unscrupulous parties were taking advantage of low enforcement to dump waste along riverbanks in some areas.

He cited South Korea as an example of a country which had devoted 80% of its fiscal stimulus worth about US$38bil (RM164.5bil) after the 2008 financial crisis to areas such as renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, low carbon transport and waste management.

“The Korean economy recovered and many green jobs were created. In its next five-year plan, it invested some USS85bil (RM367.9bil) more in clean energy and green growth and created some one million new jobs, ” he said.

“Malaysia should consider this and prioritise the environment and green growth options in any planned fiscal stimulus, ” said Faizal.

Air quality in Malaysia peaked on Thursday – the ninth day of the MCO – with 57% of the air monitoring stations throughout the nation recording a “good” reading of between 0 and 50 as at 2pm.

This is a jump from 42% at the same time on March 17, a day before the MCO began.

China also saw its carbon emissions drop by at least 100 million metric tonnes over the past two weeks, according to a study published on Wednesday by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland. That is nearly 6% of global emissions during the same period last year.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said it was a “healing time” for the country but it would not be long before the public resume their normal lives after the MCO.

“I hope the public can use this time to be more aware and sensitive towards the environment and continue to defend Mother Nature.

“It plays a very important role for our ecosystem and well-being.

“It is about time the government changes our policies on preservation, especially maintaining our natural resources. This cannot be compromised anymore, ” she said.

Shariffa Sabrina said the government should work on improving the National Forestry Act 1984 and put a moratorium on logging.

Environmental activist Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed said although there might be some improvement, enforcement must also be strengthened.

“It can cut both ways. If the park rangers are not doing their regular enforcement during the MCO period, poachers will be free to do whatever they want in the forest.

“Officers from the Wildlife and National Parks Department cannot let their guard down, ” he said.

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