I find this letter to the NST a very well researched and well written piece.
However, I definitely agree with Ashraff Sanusi’s concerns over the sweeping changes that will be necessary in order to meet a carbon reduction goal. In fact, I thank him for his facts and figures which help show just how much of our taken-for-granted comforts and conveniences we will have to give up in order to appease Al Gore’s Gaia.
I also share many of his others concerns raised such as how difficult it will be to transition to renewable energy and better public transportation (two ends that I share in common with global warmists – we only differ on the schedule of implementation and whether it should be by choice or by force).
From NST Letters 23 Dec 2009 (NST links become defunct after a while):
ENVIRONMENT: Plan for a rough ride on emissions
ASHRAFF SANUSI, Cardiff University
I WAS astounded to read that Malaysia pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 40 per cent within the next 10 years (“Najib pledges 40pc carbon cut” — NST, Dec 18).
The question is, how does the government plan to cut 40 per cent, when many advanced countries, which are better equipped in terms of technology and manpower, are offering smaller emission cuts?
Barack Obama’s administration is offering only a 17 per cent cut in the United States; and Britain (for so long being a pioneer in the instalment of renewable energy facilities) promises a 15 per cent cut during this period.
Even Europe is pondering whether a 30 per cent emission cut is feasible. The only country that pledged a bigger cut than Malaysia is China, which promises to reduce emissions by 45 per cent.
The first step in reducing emissions requires us to change our “carbon footprint” pattern, which is a measure of the impact of our daily activities on the environment, especially in the emission of greenhouse gases. The average carbon footprint for a Malaysian is seven tonnes per annum, three tonnes more than the world’s average.
This will require us to change our lifestyles, from the food we eat to the home appliances we use.
Every choice we make will have an effect on the environment. Choosing not to drive to work for a day will mean 175g less carbon dioxide per kilometre, and opting to cancel a flight to Europe will mean 2,315kg less carbon dioxide.
Increasing awareness among the public will be crucial to success. We are not aware of this problem due to a lack of campaigns and regulations.
A decade ago, Malaysians began to discover the virtues of recycling.
Fast-forward by a decade and recycling still remains an alien habit. So, what chance does any scheme to reduce our carbon footprint have?
It is difficult enough to change our attitudes; to do it within the next decade will be nothing short of impossible.
Our transport system will be among the first issues that need to be re-addressed.
With transportation being responsible for 14 per cent of global greenhouse gases (GHG), our dependency on greener modes of transportation, such as the light rail transit system, will become more pivotal.
If the government is serious, major cities like Ipoh, Johor Baru and Penang and certain rural areas should acquire such infrastructure.
The coverage of infrastructure in Kuala Lumpur must encompass larger parts of the population.
This will go in line with the introduction of a congestion charge (such as those being applied in London) to encourage people to use greener transport systems and reduce the carbon footprint.
Allocations are also needed to improve the highway system, which can reduce carbon emissions by lowering the frequency of traffic jams and congestion.
Since an average saloon car emits 135.5g/km of CO2 and 6.75g/km of hydrocarbon particulates, certain policies in the local automotive industry will require modification. Exemption from taxes for greener hybrid cars will allow them to be more competitive in the market.
Maybe the time is also right for a better fuel quality to be introduced by the government.
In a recent survey, the International Fuel Quality Centre (IFQC) ranked Malaysia in 78th position, well behind several Asian countries such as Singapore (38th), Taiwan (39th) and Thailand (49th). Given that we are an oil-producing country, how is it we are trailing neighbours that do not have any oil reserves, let alone their own national oil producers?
Worse yet is the emission of gases from airplanes, which make for 12 per cent of transport-sector emissions.
Airplanes also account for the release of nitrogen oxide (NOx), which contribute to the formation of ozone. Greenhouse gases emitted from airplanes are considered more dangerous as emissions occur at a higher altitude, and result in greater concentrations of ozone compared with ground-level emissions.
At the same time, the government is keen to establish Malaysia as a regional aviation hub. The Low-Cost Carrier Terminal handles some 400 flights daily. So, how will this sit with the pledge we made last week in Copenhagen? Again, the government will need to balance the pros and cons.
The bulk of carbon emission in the country can be reduced by restructuring the power industry.
In 2004, 87 per cent of our electricity was produced by thermal plants and 13 per cent through hydroelectric schemes. Our only source of renewable energy is hydroelectricity and there are no plans to introduce wind farms due to a lack of wind resources in the region.
Solar energy or photovoltaic energy remains uncertain because of the huge investments it will demand.
Our only possible option for a decarbonised power sector is nuclear reactors. The debate whether it is a renewable form of energy remains unanswered as it depends on the steam generated from the nuclear process, such as fission of plutonium, to drive its turbines.
On top of it, no one would want a nuclear power plant to be built in his backyard due to the danger of leakage. Remember Chernobyl? Questions will also be raised as to where the country will store its radioactive waste.
According to a report by Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the earliest the country can commission its first nuclear reactor is 2025. A 2025 commissioning proposed by TNB will still not help meet the target of a 40 per cent cut in emissions set for 2020.
Malaysia produces 50 per cent more electricity than is needed daily to abide by power purchasing agreements (PPAs). This issue of power-purchasing from independent power producers (IPPs) must be resolved to cut down on emissions, mainly because most IPPs run coal-fired power plants.
The most recent batch of IPPs (which has just begun commissioning) still run “combine cycle power plants” that uses natural gas as its combustion medium. The PPA for the first batch of IPPs (post-1990s) will only expire in 2025.
It will thus be difficult for the government to introduce regulation in this industry, especially to meet its Copenhagen target.
There are countless other issues (such as the feasibility of “smart metering”, and building more energy-efficient buildings) that require attention before the carbon deficit in Malaysia can be reduced substantially, but we are on the right track to creating a better tomorrow.
The ground work is being laid through the launch of the National Green Technology Policy introduced by the government in July. Hopefully, the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry will soon come out with a national plan to guide Malay-sia to meet its pledge.
Tags: Ashraff Sanusi