Archive for March, 2010

New Act to provide greater protection for wildlife

Posted on March 26, 2010. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star- PETALING JAYA: The proposal to repeal the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and replace it with a new act for greater protection of wildlife will presented to the Cabinet for approval today.

Natural Resources and Environ-ment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said once it was approved, the Wildlife Conservation Bill would be tabled in Parliament.

“The proposed act has taken feedback and recommendations from relevant parties in the Government and non-governmental organisations, into consideration,” he said in a statement after the launch of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) research gallery in Kepong yesterday.

He said under the Bill, the penalties provided for crimes have been increased by between 10 to 30 times besides mandatory jail sentences for serious offences.

The new act, he said would also provide better enforcement on wildlife derivatives to prevent them from being used for traditional medicine.

“Under the existing Act, protection is limited to mammalians, reptiles, birds and insects while the new act will also provide protection to amphibians (frogs), arachnids (spiders) and gastropods (snails).

“It will also provide wider powers on new activities such as circuses and exhibition of wildlife,” he said.

He added that the new act would also cover the issue of invasive alien species which contribute to the extinction of local wildlife. The existing act was last amended in 1998.

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Book extols beauty of endangered Sg Pulai

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

JOHOR BARU: Do you know how many species of crabs, seagrasses, seaweeds, starfishes and marine snails are found at the Sungai Pulai estuary?

Have you seen seahorses, pipefishes, dugong feeding trails and a myriad of quirky-looking creatures in natural surroundings without getting wet?

Timely publication: This handbook is available at RM29 and the proceeds will be channelled towards Sungai Pulai conservation efforts.

If not, Sungai Pulai is the place for you.

Located in south-western Johor, Sungai Pulai’s ecosystem is in unison with the extensive mangrove forests, seagrass beds, mudflats, rocky shores and coral reefs of the area that giving space for a great diversity species.

SOS Files: A Journey to Sungai Pulai is a new handbook published by Save Our Seahorses to share what is known about the flora and fauna at Sungai Pulai.

The 156-page book is user-friendly, has clear descriptions on species identification and contains special notes on species habitats, feeding habits and ecological importance.

It was published in the hope that the natural beauty of Sungai Pulai will be preserved through public appreciation and political will at a time when the area is going through rapid degradation due to uncontrolled development.

The co-authors are Choo Chee Kuang, Serina Rahman and Khor Hui Min.

It is priced at RM29 and all proceeds will be channelled to Sungai Pulai conservation projects.

To get a copy, send email to saveourseahorses@yahoo.com

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Malaysia to launch long-delayed biofuel mandate in 2011

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

(Reuters) – Malaysia has asked petroleum companies to bear the extra cost of selling diesel blended with palm oil from June next year to kickstart sales of the green fuel after a four-year delay.

The world’s No.2 palm oil producer has struggled to implement a mandate to push the blended fuel and support the palm industry first introduced in 2007 as the government was reluctant to subsidise biofuel blends to match diesel prices at the pump.

Commodities minister Bernard Dompok said on Wednesday that the green fuel, a blend of five percent palm and 95 percent diesel petroleum, will be introduced in stages in the central states on the mainland.

“The (biofuels mandate implementation) will support palm oil prices and will enable planters especially the smallholders to reap economic benefits,” Dompok said in a statement.

Eventually, the mandate will be extended to other Malaysian state and will take up half a million tonnes of the Southeast Asian country’s total annual crude palm oil production but no timeframe was given.

Traders said the announcement briefly supported Malaysian crude palm oil futures KPOc3 before market players turned their focus to lower crude oil and soyoil markets.

“The government has been flip-flopping over this issue. It gives a good support base for the market but it remains to be seen if it will actually be implemented,” a trader with a local brokerage said.

Dompok said the government will bear the cost of developing six petroleum depots with blending facilities at a cost of 43.1 million ringgit ($13 million).

Petroleum companies including state oil firm Petronas [PETR.UL] as well as oil majors like Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) (SLRS.KL), Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Caltex (CTX.AX) will have to subsidise palm-based biofuel blends at the pump, he said.

Petroleum diesel retails at 1.70 ringgit ($0.498) a litre, a price that is regulated by the government and among the lowest in Asia. Any increase in petroleum prices is politically sensitive.

Local biofuel manufacturers say blending 5 percent palm biofuel into diesel increased prices by 0.02 to 0.06 Malaysian ringgit a litre over petroleum diesel.

Dompok said Malaysia has approved 56 licenses for biofuel production, for total capacity of 6.8 million tonnes.

In 2009, Malaysia produced 227,457 tonnes of palm based biofuels that garnered export earnings of 604 million ringgit ($182 million). ($1=3.318 Malaysian Ringgit)

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Mandatory sale of biofuel to start June next year

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

BANTING: The mandatory sale of biofuel will be implemented in the central region from June next year.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who said this, added that the mandatory sale would be implemented in phases beginning in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and Malacca, and the southern, western and northern parts of Perak, Pahang and Johor.

-The Star- The implementation was part of the Government’s biofuel initiative under the B5 Programme, with bio-fuel derived from blending 5% palm methyl ester with 95% diesel.

Dompok, who launched Sime Darby Bhd’s biodiesel fuel Bio-N and visited its biofuel plant in Carey Island on Wednesday, said petroleum companies had requested for some time before the implementation.

“They needed time to plan their facilities and capital expenditure,” said Dompok, adding that the Government would pay for the setting-up of biodiesel blending facilities at six petroleum depots in the central region.

The depots, which would be fitted with in-line blending facilities, would be located in Port Klang, the Klang Valley Distribution Terminal (KVDT) in Selangor, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan and in Tangga Batu, Malacca.

An allocation of RM43.1mil would be made available for this purpose, Dompok said.

Dompok said that the price of biofuel would fluctuate according to the market price of crude palm oil and diesel.

“If there’s an increase in diesel price, it would be borne by the oil companies. They have agreed to take it on as operational expenditure,” said Dompok.

Earlier in his speech, the minister said the Government had released the National Biofuel Policy in March 2006 in line with global developments that saw nations pursuing aggressive agendas on the production and use of biofuels to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The policy outlined five strategic thrusts, namely the use of biofuel for transport and industry, production of biofuel for export, development of indigenous technologies and biofuels for a cleaner environment.

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Green It: Taking the green path

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: Climate Change |

-NST-Izwan Ismail

THE world we live in today is getting hotter by the day. If you realise, the average temperature ranges anywhere between 31º to 40º Celsius, which is something uncommon a decade ago.

While most people would blame it on the thinning of the ozone layer or the El Nino effect, the fact is most of the problems are the result of our own undoing.

According to Philips Malaysia’s chief executive officer Lee Weng Seong, what happens today is due to emissions from the products used.

“Emissions as a result of using products are about 70 times higher than during production of the products,” he said. In this context, he said people always think of the cost of acquiring or building products than the cost or running them. “We focus too much on cost of the product, be it TV set, light, air-conditioner, but forget the cost of running the product and the carbon footprint it produces,” he said. This indirectly contributes to the heating of the Earth. The green path Today, consumers have a choice, whether to use energy-efficient products, or otherwise. “While most of the normal energy inefficient products are much cheaper, they are way more expensive to run and have a shorter life span,” said Lee. He cites an example of the light bulbs used in homes, which consume an average of 60 watts of electricity a day.

“Imagine, if this bulb is used for a year, it would consume 110 kilowatts of energy.

But if users switch to the energy-saving compact fluorescent bulb, they can reduce electricity consumption by 80 per cent lasts longer than the normal bulbs,” he said. Basically, per year, the energy-efficient bulb will consume only 20 kW of electricity, and users can achieve a net saving of 90kW per annum. Lee said the light bulb is just one instance of how people can move towards a greener environment. Other types of modern home appliances like the vacuum cleaner, air-conditioner, and refrigerator are also available in energy saving modes today.

Lee says emissions from using products are about 70 times higher  than during production
Lee says emissions from using products are about 70 times higher than during production

Philips’ HD motor of the EnergyCare vacuum cleaner uses up to 35 per cent less energy and 60 per cent of its plastics is sustainable and made partly from recycled and bio-based plastics. “Consumers need to look at the long-term effect and benefit they can get from green products, not just the initial cost,” he said. For certain parts of the world like in Africa, Philips has designed a special light powered by solar that can help school children learn after the sun goes down.

This is useful in places where there is no electricity. Besides that, the company’s newly developed Woodstove that can improve the lives of people who rely on biomass for healthier and faster cooking.

It allows efficient use of wood and reduces health risks of indoor air pollution with 90 per cent reduction in carbon monoxide and 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Philips take on green Green has been on Philips product agenda for quite some time.

In fact, the company has established a KPI towards its green initiatives. Philips calls its green initiative EcoVision, and the company has made quite a milestone so far. “Under EcoVision4, which started in 2007 until 2012, we plan to generate 30 per cent of total revenues from green products, and as of last year, we’ve already achieved 31 per cent.

We also introduced 800 new green products,” said Lee. “Besides that, we plan to double our investment in Green Innovations to a cumulative EUR 1 billion and improve our operational energy efficiency by 25 per cent and reduce our carbon emissions by 25 per cent,” he said. Meanwhile, under the EcoVision 5 programme, Philips has three new KPIs which are to bring care to 500 million people who need continuous healthcare and to increase energy efficiency of its products to 50 percent.

“Today, we also build, use and recycle our products.

It’s a big challenge as some countries don’t have this programme running.

In Malaysia, recycling has gained momentum,” he said. Local initiatives In engaging the community on the benefits of using green products, Philips has established initiatives such as the SimplyHealthy@Schools. “It’s a programme where Philips’ employees engage primary school children on simple ways on how to improve their health and well-being through lighting usage.

We taught them on the benefits of energy-saving lights,” he said. For 2010, we have identified three schools in Petaling Jaya to be involved in this campaign.
“Under the programme, Philips’ staff will switch the schools’ inefficient bulbs and lights with energy-efficient ones.

The  Philips Woodstove
The Philips Woodstove

This can help improve the learning environment in schools as studies have revealed that under certain types and colour of lights, students can learn better and pay attention with fewer tendencies to be distracted.

The learning environment can change due to a simple change in lighting,” said Lee.

Besides that, Philips also developed a toolkit — a formal curriculum developed and endorsed by the Education Ministry whereby children are taught on energy saving through puzzles, games, illustrations and a nature walk to appreciate the environment.

Lee said Philips has tied up with the Malaysian Nature Society who owns the Nature Club Lovers activity in schools.

This initiative impacted 350 schools and 2,000 children under the Environment Ministry and Education Ministry.

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Flowers losing scent due to climate change

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Climate Change |

-NST-

KUALA LUMPUR: A rose may stop smelling like a rose.

This is the concern of environmentalists as flowers are losing their scent due to climate change and air pollution. And their fragrance may be lost forever.

Science and Technology Professor Emeritus at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr Abdul Latif Mohamad, said genetically modified flowers might be the way out.

Climate change is also the reason Kuala Lumpur City Hall is increasingly turning to shady trees, because flowers which previously formed the centrepiece of its beautification programme have been wilting fast.

Datuk Bandar Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail said City Hall used to spend RM1.5 million ($635,100) a month to plant and maintain flowers in the city, but the contractor’s services were terminated in March last year.

City Hall has taken over the planting, opting for bou-gainvillea and the tropical shrubs, Ixora, for their durability and cheaper cost.

Under the previous arrangement, some of the small flowers cost RM3.50 per seedling.

“It was getting too costly to beautify the city. Flowers were dying fast,” he said, adding that City Hall would continue to plant shady trees more suited for soaking up the increasing pollution and coping with global warming.

Latif said UKM might have offered plausible reasons as to why some pollinators were not spreading flower seeds, a pattern caused by the missing “scent trail” with scent tissues burning easily due to global warming.

“The aroma producing chemical compounds in flowers dry up faster now compared with before.”

The only way out, he said, was to genetically modify the flowers so that the effects would not be permanent and the future generation would not be robbed of nature’s beauty.

“The act is almost like producing essential oils. Scientists add on certain chemicals for stronger scent.”

He said scents in flowers last longer in colder climate as plants can hold on to their essential oils longer.

“The flowers may still have strong scents in colder climate. But locally, we fear this might be lost forever.”

With flowers emitting lesser scent, the insects and butterflies are travelling further and longer to get a share of nectar.

Latif said birds and insects were heading towards hilly areas and deeper into the jungles where the weather is cooler.

He related an incident in Sungai Siput, Perak, where the farmers failed to get fruits from their orchards.

Upon investigation, Latif’s team discovered that the flowers were no longer pollinating after dust from a hill blast blocked the growth of stigmas.

He said Malaysians could no longer rely on nature to heal itself without the help of science.

He said Malaysia needed to follow in the footsteps of Japan, Europe, the United States, China and South Korea which have invested millions in the research of genetically modified seeds.

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Mahmod said recently the extreme weather change might affect the life span of trees as a result of lighter or heavier rain.

“We should look at how trees can be mutated so that they will not be destroyed.”

He said experts, including from FRIM, should look at ways to prolong the lifespan of certain plants.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said given the extreme climate changes, every country should work together and not in isolation.

He said the decline in global biodiversity and ecosystem services urgently called for proactive measures.

“Both policy-makers and researchers need to work hand in hand to strengthen forest genetics, breeding and conservation.”

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Need To Raise Awareness On Water Sustainability

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

(Bernama) — There is a need to raise public awareness on the importance of water sustainability while nurturing a pro-active attitude towards water conservation, President of Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor said on Monday.

He said the youth especially, need to be enlightened on the looming water issues in the country.

“Water is a finite resource and has an economic value, therefore we need to protect our water catchments, forests and rivers. We can go without food for about two weeks, but we cannot survive even a single day without water,” he told reporters after opening a National Youth Conference on Water Resources in Malaysia here.

Salleh said in daily water usage, people tend to waste water while bathing, brushing teeth, gardening, washing clothes and even washing cars.

He said everybody, especially the government and the media should look into ways and means to inculcate the habit of using water wisely, considering the population growth and the future needs of the country.

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In Dire State For Water, Quality Water (Part 2)

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

By Melati Mohd Ariff

This is the second of the two-part series on safeguarding water resources and tackling the many issues plaguing water resources, both domestic and abroad.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 (Bernama) — Being the main component of living organism, good quality water is fundamental not only in sustaining life on earth but also for enabling economic activities.

The desired water quality is determined by the physical, chemical and biological parameters.

Hence, water quality, including surface water and groundwater, rests on the elements that are being discharged into the environment.

As the used water returns to the hydrological system, the environment will be severely impacted if it is left untreated.

OUR SITUATION

On the home turf, the growing population and rapid expansion in economic activities have increased the demand for water.

This has also encouraged various parties to seek alternatives to ensure sufficient water supply for the nation’s consumption.

Already there is a proposal to draw underground water with a pilot project being proposed in Batang Padang district in Perak.

S.Piarapakaran, the Secretary General of Water and Energy Consumer Association of Malaysia (WECAM), pointed out that the country’s water needs particularly in areas around the Klang Valley could be managed in many ways.

He elaborated quoting 2005 statistics provided by the FAO, in Malaysia surface water resources (mainly rivers) were more abundant than groundwater resources,

“Estimated amount of surface water resources in Malaysia is 566 km3 compared with 64 km3 of the groundwater resources. This clearly shows that Malaysia should emphasise on the preservation and conservation of surface water resources,” he told Bernama in a recent interview.

PRESERVE WATER RESOURCES

Some of the measures to be considered include sustainable utilisation and conservation responsibility for surface water involving all stakeholders.

The water resources preservation includes protection of raw water resources, efficient management of rivers, ensuring water needs of flora and fauna are met and ensuring water catchments are gazetted as permanent reserves.

According to Piarapakaran, the conservation of water resources is a good move compared with investing millions of Ringgit in building new infrastructures such as dam, reservoir, treatment plant and distribution network system.

This move, he reckoned saves a lot of cost in terms of raw water availability.

“This is more economical in the longer run. We should also bear in mind that surface water will give direct impact to groundwater. This will eventually make the groundwater unsuitable for consumption. What will we turn to after that? ” asked Piarapakaran.

STOP POLLUTING RIVERS

He also stressed that managing surface water, which is mostly rivers, is vital as it contributes to almost 95 per cent of raw water resources for consumption.

“The protection for these resources is still lacking in Malaysia. For example the Sungai Labu which is a combination of Sungai Batang Nilai and Sungai Batang Labu, which is subjected to pollution from industry, commercial activities and individual septic tanks.

“Mind you, this river is the raw water intake source for the Salak Tinggi Water Treatment Plant in Selangor. Water being universal rights to humans should not be bound to territories (state or country borders cannot stop the right to good quality water),” he stressed.

Piarapakaran maintained that state governments had to ensure the quality of the raw water and any drop by the quality would involve higher treatment cost, which in turn would be translated into higher water tariff to consumers.

MANAGING NON-REVENUE WATER (NRW)

Non-Revenue water (NRW) is the loss in revenue from treated water through various means.

According to the Water Industry Guide 2008, the NRW value can reach as high as 60 per cent for a state and the national average NRW value is 37 per cent for the whole water supply industry in the country. NRW losses are close to RM 1.5 billion annually based on statistics of average tariff and consumption for industrial and domestic consumers.

Outlining this factor, Piarapakaran said NRW remains as the main factor contributing to income losses for water industry in general.

The International Water Association (IWA) defines NRW to three components, namely Unbilled Authorised Consumption (UAC) which refers to water used for fire fighting or free water distributed at standpipes or provided for religious institutions.

The second component is Apparent Loses referring to unauthorised consumption, including illegal connections, and metering inaccuracies.

NRW also refers to losses of water resulting from leakages during transmission or distribution besides leakage and overflow from utility storage.

Piarapakaran urged measures to be duly taken to deal with NRW as he said reduction of NRW means more water demand could be accommodated without new investment being made including the proposed groundwater project in Batang Padang District, Perak.

LONGER DRY SPELLS

Media reports of late have shown how dams, rivers and irrigation canals are drying up in Johor and in the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah.

The dire situation is linked to the El Nino phenomenon, which is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperature in the Equatorial Pacific.

According to the Meteorological Services Department, the situation is expected to last until April for Peninsular Malaysia while in Sabah it is expected to last until May.

“Chaos in the form of water crisis is the last thing we need during these prolonged dry spells. While climate change will continue to alter rain patterns, we should buckle up.

“Few years ago we have advised the water operators to run their emergency response plan. This is to ensure consumers respond well and help water operators to coordinate during actual emergency situation.

“Up to now, we still have this last minute mentality,” said a clearly disappointed Piarapakaran, adding that emergency drill should be carried out in stages to all consumers.

Such measure, he said would help to streamline information dissemination, overcome communication barriers and prepare consumers to face contingencies if a real water crisis was to occur.

“A water crisis, will create shock and uneasiness. Based on our field study, people in Melaka will experience trauma if their taps start dripping. This is due to the worst draught they faced several years ago.

“WECAM have presented our suggestion to Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) recently and they are looking into implementing it. This plan will also need the water operators’ inputs to make it a workable action plan,” he added.

MEASURES RECOMMENDED

Piarapakaran who is also the Chief Operating Officer of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association put forward several recommendations that could be adopted as a mitigation measure to fight water scarcity in the country.

Protecting all water catchments and potential future water resources is deemed as the key measure.

“If we continue discharging toxic elements into a river, we cannot reverse the damage especially when there is a water emergency. In addition to this, connecting piping in between water treatment plants to create a grid system function must be developed.

“This is similar to electricity grid. When one power generator fails, others will stabilise the electricity supply. This should be a long term plan to fight water crisis,” explained Piarapakaran.

He maintained that stand alone piping network is not a viable solution, adding that this also falls back to the planning of treatment plant.

He added that water treatment plants should not run on full capacity and that there should be reserves to accommodate fluctuation in the water supply. This reserves, he said can help in channeling of water to crisis hit areas via water ‘grid system’.

BE WATER EFFICIENT

Piarapakaran stressed that both industrial and domestic consumers have to play their role to be more water efficient.

Domestic consumer’s recommended water consumption by World Health Organisation is 165 liters /day/person. But, we Malaysians are using more than 300 liters/day/person.

“There are many water conservation steps that you can practice daily to reduce water consumption. WECAM will be more than willing to assist consumers to be water efficient.

“In addition to that, industrial water usage must be more efficient. Water footprint per product or service rendered should be a good measuring tool to ensure they practice water efficient steps such as water free processes, reuse and recycling of water.

“WECAM will be submitting more workable plans for the Malaysian government to consider and take action,” he added.

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Borneo Can Say “No” to Coal Power

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-Mongabay.com- Plans for a coal power plant in the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo have run into stiff opposition. Environmentalists say the coal plant could damage extensive coral reef systems, pollute water supplies, open rainforests to mining, and contribute to global climate change, undercutting Sabah’s image as a ‘green’ destination. The federal government contends that the coal plant is necessary to fix Sabah’s energy problems. However, a recent energy audit by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University of California Berkeley shows that pollution-intensive coal doesn’t have to be in Sabah’s future.

“We found that energy efficiency, biofuels, hydropower, and geothermal provide immediate advantages for the region over fossil fuels, and that in time both solar and ocean energy could provide even more energy than coal, while building jobs and a clean environment,” Professor Daniel Kammen, head of the energy analysis and director of RAEL, told mongabay.com.


Commissioned by Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-power the Future), a coalition of NGOs that oppose the planned 300 megawatt coal plant, Kammen examined Sabah’s energy options, including traditional fossil fuels, biomass waste, hydropower, solar, wind, and geothermal. The analysis also looked at the cost of each of these options to consumers, taking into consideration that an independent energy producer would require a certain return on their investment.

Alternatives

The study found that using biomass waste from Sabah’s extensive oil palm plantations could provide a significant boost in energy to the state while being cost competitive with coal. This solution would also deal with a waste-disposal problem for the oil palm plantations.

“The large scale of palm oil, and other biomasses means that this ‘waste’ is a huge resource,” says Kammen, though he also stresses that oil palm plantations are not without their own environmental problems.

“The challenge is not the technology, but in managing a wider issue, the growth in palm oil estates that have their own significant negative impacts on the region, despite their economic benefits,”

Using 2008 data from the palm oil industry, Kamman’s report found that by 2020 oil palm waste could provide a staggering 700 megawatts. Four hundred megawatts (a hundred more than the planned coal plant) would be achievable under a proposed 4-year-program.


Sunset over the Tabin Reserve rainforest. Environmentalists fear that a new coal plant near Tabin could damage the rainforest through acid rain and deforestation for transmission lines. Photo by Jeremy Hance.

Hydropower was also found to be a cost-competitive with coal and more environmentally friendly, while geothermal was found to be only slightly more expensive than coal. A location has already been identified on the east coast of Sabah for a 67 megawatt geothermal power plant. Yet, Kammen, adds that Sabah shouldn’t rule out solar energy.

“Solar energy is a far better, but a bit longer-term resource, than is widely appreciated today,” he says.

The cheapest way forward is to pursue reduction in energy demand overall notes the analysis.

Coal fears

Despite the many environmental problems known to accompany coal power, the coal plant is being pushed both by the federal Tenaga Nasional Berhad and the state energy company, Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd.

Opposition from locals has forced the coal plant to move its location—twice. Now, the plan is to build it on Sabah’s east coast, directly on top of the Coral Triangle, an area known for astounding marine biodiversity. In addition, conservationists fear the coal plant’s transmissions will cut through some of the region’s last intact rainforest in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, home to a number of endangered species including the Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran rhino.

Environmentalists also warn that sulfur dioxide emissions from burning the coal could trigger acid rain that would impact nearby rainforests and agriculture. In addition, discharge of chlorine sulfates into the ocean would boost the likelihood of regional eutrophication and algal blooms, resulting in massive marine die-off. Currently, the area is home to many fishermen who depend on the oceans for their livelihood.

Locals have said that they fear the coal plant will turn the east coast of Sabah into America’s coal states, where water pollution, air pollution, coal ash dumps, deforestation, and destructive mining have devastated the local environment and wildlife. They point to the coal ash spill in Tennessee in 2008 as an example of what they don’t want to become.


On December 22, 2008, the earthen wall of a containment pond at Tennessee’s Kingston Fossil Plant failed, releasing 4 million cubic meters of fly ash slurry. The slurry — laced with arsenic, lead, chromium, manganese, and barium — covered 120 hectares of land, damaging homes and polluting the local river. The clean-up cost is estimated at $675 and $975 million. The slurry was generated by coal burning at the plant. Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“The environmental problems of [the planned coal project] are only the beginning,” says Kammen. “The renewable energy resources in Sabah could lead to a path that invests in the people and sustaining the land, and not in expanding the dependence of the region on imported, dirty, coal.”

Moving forward

At Copenhagen last December, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, pledged a 40 percent cut in carbon dioxide intensity by 2020. By moving forward on coal energy, Malaysia would make meeting this goal even more difficult, since coal is the most carbon intensive of the fossil fuels.

Kammen says that the choice between coal and renewable energy doesn’t have to be an either/or choice: either cheap or expensive, either job-creation or job-loss.

“The people of Sabah are keenly aware of the need for jobs, and of their incredible natural resource base. Renewable energy supports that positive development, and a coal project in the region fights that positive, clean, growth,” he says.

Sabah, its people, and its policymakers are facing a decision similar to many places of the world: how do we move ahead on energy? Kammen says that if Sabah chooses renewable energy over traditional fossil fuels it could help spark a clean energy revolution.

“That economies in all parts of the world can look carefully at their resources, develop partnerships, and build a clean energy, job creating path, that protects the natural legacy of each state and province, and our shared global legacy to leave the world a better place for our children than we found it. So far, our society, globally, has not lived up to that charge,” he explains, adding that “Sabah can take a stand, profit from the choice, and chart a new path.”

To facilitate this ‘new path’, a forum is being held on Friday, March 20th to discuss energy production in Sabah and allow the public to air their views. Green SURF, the Sabah Electricty Sdn Bhd (SESB), and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOD) will be in attendance.


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Malaysia practices sustainable ways in producing palm oil, says Dompok

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-mysinchew.com-

(Bernama) — Malaysia practices good agriculture and sustainable ways to produce palm oil in the country, said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

He explained although many non governmental organisations (NGOs) attacked Malaysia on the issue of environment, sustainability, deforestation and wildlife conservation, the Malaysian government was very committed in managing and tackling the issues.

Dompok said the government’s commitment in managing the environment and wildlife was demonstrated in its support for the establishment of the RM20 millin Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund.

He said palm oil industry players contributed towards the fund as part of their corporate social responsiility to promote production of sustainable palm oil.

“In August 2009, Cadbury bowed to pressure from NGOs when it removed palm oil as an ingredient in its chocolates. This was contributed by allegations that the palm oil used was responsible for deforestation and displacement of Orang Utan habitate.

“I must reiterate here that Malaysian palm oil is produced through good agriculture and sustainable practices,” Dompok said when launching the East Malaysia Planters’ Association Conference 2010 here today.

He said the government would continue to promote sustainable production of palm oil by encouraging industry players to adhere to Roundtable and Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principals.

Todate, 157,000 hectares of oil palm, which produced more than one million tonnes of palm oil, was certified under the RSPO and the government has allocated RM50 million, among others, to educate smallholders on the importance of adopting sustainable practises.

Meanwhile, Dompok said Malaysia must seek ways to speed up forest restoration in a more cost-effective manner.

He said this would fulfill the dual role of restoring and maintaining the full array of biodiversity and produce sustainable supply of wood from natural forests and plantations.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the government provided funding to plant commercial timber and to nurture the sector to become an important sector of the Malaysian economy.

It established Forest Plantation Development Sdn Bhd to provide soft funding to qualified companies interested in establishing forest plantations on a large scale basis.

“In this regard, the government is working towards increasing forest plantation hectarage from the current 270,000 hectares to 500,000 hectares in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

“To date, a total of RM47 million has been disbursed to 14 companies to plant 54,935 hectares of commercial forest plantation,” he said.

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