Climate Change and Protection of Biodiversity in Malaysia

02 October 2018

Climate Change and Protection of Biodiversity in Malaysia

Climate change, including global warming, is no doubt a pressing global issue. This is an issue that is inextricably linked with the protection of biodiversity. As per a statement made by Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Executive Secretary in July 2018 at the UN High–level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York: “If we are to protect our biodiversity, we must address climate change. But to address climate change, we must protect our biodiversity.” Like other countries, Malaysia has not escaped the consequences of climate change, as can be seen from the increased frequency and magnitude of floods, the frequent occurrences of haze, and results of studies showing reductions in rice yield, to name a few examples.


Malaysia’s diversity of flora and fauna species makes it one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity per unit area. However, as Malaysia’s economy rapidly developed, human activities resulting in deforestation, soil erosion, pollution of the air and water, and other forms of degradation of the environment threatened both its biodiversity and contributed to the global climate change. Malaysia, being cognizant of the need to address the impact of climate change and to protect its biodiversity, has been one of the signatories of a number of international treaties and conventions. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 2015 Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).


With its ratification of the Montreal Protocol 1989 which aims to reduce the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer, Malaysia has established a framework for controlling ozonedepleting substances. As a member of the UNFCC which ultimate objective is to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gas (GHG) at a level that would not adversely affect the climate system, Malaysia has set up a national GHG inventory for the purpose of reporting its GHG to the UNFCC. In 1994, Malaysia established its National Committee on Climate Change to assess Malaysia’s implementation of UNFCC. In 2002, Malaysia ratified the Kyoto Protocol which commits parties to the agreement to reach emissions reductions targets.


Legislation relevant to biodiversity are numerous and include, for example, the National Forestry Act 1984, Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, National Parks Act 1980, Fisheries Act 1985, Environmental Quality Act 1974, Pesticide Act 1974, Natural Resources Ordinance 1949 (for Sarawak), Forest Ordinance 1954 (for Sarawak), National Parks Ordinance 1956 (for Sarawak), Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1956 (for Sarawak), Fauna Conservation Ordinance 1963 (for Sabah), and Forest Enactment 1968 (for Sabah). The National Policy on Biological Diversity 2016-2025 forms part of Malaysia’s response to the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The policy provides the framework for conservation and sustainable use of Malaysia’s biodiversity. This involves, inter alia, creating public awareness and cooperation, and enforcement of the relevant legislations.


In 2010, Malaysia launched a National Policy on Climate Change. The main objectives of the policy include mainstreaming climate change through effective management of resources, enhanced environmental conservation and reducing negative impacts on climate change. The Malaysian government also established the National Green Technology and Climate Change Council, a platform to coordinate the issues of green technology between the various ministries, agencies, private sector and other stakeholders to implement the government’s policies in addressing climate change and thus protecting biodiversity. There has been news that the new government may form a new council, not only for climate change mitigation but also for climate change adaptation.


The Green Technology Corporation established by the previous government has the role of promoting and coordinating programmes that help realize Malaysia’s potential for green technology. Malaysia’s legislation and policies aimed at addressing and mitigating climate change focus strongly on the energy sector, the promotion of renewable energy being a priority area. Hence the enactment of the Biofuels Industry Act 2007, the Zaraihan Shaari is a partner at Shearn Delamore & Co in Kuala Lumpur. She drafts patent specifications; advises on patent searches; handles patent prosecution and registration; advises on patent validity and infringement; and also represents clients in patent litigation. She has worked extensively in pharmaceuticals. Renewable Energy Act 2011 and the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Act 2011. The Malaysia Biofuels Industry Act 2007 creates a blending mandate for palm oil biodiesel with petroleum diesel and establishes a regulatory regime for the licensing of blending, storage, transportation and export of biodiesel from palm oil. The Renewable Energy Act 2011 establishes a feed-in tariffs system for renewable energy. The system sets fixed tariff rates for electricity generated from solar, biomass, biogas and hydro energy, said tariffs being guaranteed for a prescribed period. This should encourage electricity users to generate their own electricity through methods that do not contribute to the depletion of natural resources.


The above policies and steps that have been taken by the government are evident that the link between climate change and protection of biodiversity has long been recognized. The recent creation of a single ministry to govern the issues of energy, green technology, science, climate change and environment has been seen as an emphasis by the new government that these are interlinked issues which need to be addressed together, and that addressing climate change is now high on its priority list.

About the author

 Zaraihan Shaari

Zaraihan Shaari

Zaraihan Shaari is a partner at Shearn Delamore & Co in Kuala Lumpur. She drafts patent specifications; advises on patent searches; handles patent prosecuton and registration; and als represents clients in patent litigation. She has worked extensively in pharmaceuticals.

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