KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not be involved in a virtual leaders summit on climate change led by US President Joe Biden, as the event is for big economies that collectively contribute to 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, said environment minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
In a statement on Tuesday (Apr 6), he said: “It needs to be understood that the main objective of this summit is to encourage big global economies which collectively contribute 80 per cent of greenhouse gases (globally) to increase their commitment in achieving the goal of maintaining the maximum temperature rise for global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
“(The summit) is also related to countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as Vietnam and Indonesia. Malaysia is not included in either category,” he added.
The minister also pointed out that other countries that stand out in the global climate change agenda such as Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand were also not invited.
“The summit is a one-off event which does not affect negotiations and decisions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” he said.
Additionally, Mr Tuan Ibrahim stated that the government is formulating five new policies under a national climate change management strategy.
He elaborated that this includes revising existing climate change policies, the policies and management of a carbon market mechanism and forming a greenhouse gas inventory among others.
Last month, the White House said that 40 world leaders, including those from China, Japan, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and New Zealand, have been invited to attend a virtual leaders summit on climate change. The summit will be held on Apr 22 and 23.
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Earlier on Tuesday, Democratic Action Party Secretary General Lim Guan Eng said in a statement that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has failed to push “green policies” when compared to the Pakatan Harapan administration.
“Malaysia’s exclusion from a climate action summit featuring world leaders from 40 countries, including neighbours Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam has become a sad joke on the declining state of Malaysia’s previous leading activism on promoting climate change.
“Malaysia’s exclusion from the United States Climate Action Summit confirms that Malaysia is viewed as more of a dumping ground for plastic waste than a strategic environmental partner,” he said.
Mr Lim noted that former environment and water minister Yeo Bee Yin was at the forefront of returning shipping containers of plastic waste back to their country of origin and amending the classification of plastic waste under the Basel Convention, to restrict the import of such waste.
“Despite denials by the PN Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the PN government has allowed Malaysia to slowly become the US dumping ground for ‘clean’ plastic waste,” he said.
“Tuan Ibrahim should wake up and set his vision on how to integrate climate change measures into the work of government agencies and the way forward to reclaim our climate change reputation,” Mr Lim added.
In response, Mr Tuan Ibrahim said in his statement that the issue of plastic waste should be seen separately from the climate summit.
“It needs to be clarified that current policies relating to the recycled plastic industry is allowed as determined by the Federal Government through the Ministry of International Trade and Industries (MITI).
“In terms of governance, MITI is responsible for the direction and policy of the recycled plastics industry and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) regulates the issuance of import permits (AP) only for clean and homogenous plastics. The Department of Environment (DOE) acts as the authority to ensure compliance with the Basel Convention,” he explained.
He stressed that strict action has been taken against those who failed to comply to existing laws, including sending back the imported containers of plastic waste to the original countries under the provision of paragraph 31 (1) (g) of Act 127 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
“The government policy is to make the plastic recycling industry in line with the development of the circular economy as a catalyst to green industries in line with the Green Technology Master Plan 2017-2030,” said the minister.