Towards a green nation and economy

Posted on November 27, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star-  AT YOUR SERVICE By DATUK LOO TOOK GEE
Secretary-General Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry

In the pursuit of sustainable development, policymakers must find a way to strike a balance between economic efficiency and environmental protection.THE global community is confronted with challenges related to the environment and climate change. As a result, many countries are promoting sustainable development by investing in green technology in the form of cleaner low-carbon transport and energy systems, “smart” electricity grids, energy efficiency, renewable energy as well as in green research and development.

Green technology signifies a global paradigm shift in which economic aspiration combines with resource productivity and conservation to spearhead sustainable development.

Under a Cabinet reshuffle in April 2009, the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (Kettha) was given the mandate to promote sustainable development through the adoption of green technologies in the various economic sectors of the country.

In pushing for a low-carbon economy, the Government launched the National Green Technology Policy on July 24, 2009, which serves as the basis for all Malaysians to enjoy an improved quality of life, by ensuring that the objectives of our national development policies will continue to be balanced with environmental considerations.

The Government also hopes to create a new avenue of growth for the country from green technology, in line with the New Economic Model that was unveiled recently.

The country’s vision for a low-carbon growth trajectory will be driven by four main pillars – energy, economy, environment and society.

To strengthen the platform for our green agenda, the National Green Technology Council was established to spearhead green technology application in the country. This council is chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and supported by a steering committee and five working groups on industry, research and innovation, human capital, promotion and public awareness and transportation.

The Green Technology Policy also outlines five strategic thrusts towards implementing green technologies in the country (for details, go to www.kettha.gov.my).

In the transition to a low-carbon economy, the key issue for our policymakers is how to strike a balance between economic efficiency and environmental protection as the driver for economic growth and environmental sustainability. This needs to take into consideration the importance of promoting the notion of the environment and eco-efficiency as a business opportunity, rather than a cost item.

The following are examples of the initiatives undertaken by the ministry to address the challenges of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint:

Energy efficiency

The Malaysian Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement Programme represents one of the main efforts undertaken to improve energy efficiency in the industrial sector. Since 2001, fiscal incentives had been introduced by the Government to promote efficient use of energy such as pioneer status, investment tax allowance, duty import exemption and sales tax exemption.

The ministry was now in the midst of finalising the Energy Efficiency Master Plan with clear goals and targets in the industrial, building and residential sectors, so as to coordinate and implement energy efficiency and conservation programmes in a systematic and holistic manner.

Renewable energy

The Government approved the Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan in April 2010. This policy is aimed at promoting long-term sustainability by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation and at the same time stimulate a new growth industry for the country.

To encourage renewable energy generation in the country, the Government will be implementing the Feed-in Tariff Mechanism which allows electricity produced from such sources like biomass, biogas, mini-hydro and solar to be sold to power utilities at a fixed premium price and for a specific duration.

Green buildings

The Green Building Index (GBI) is a rating tool to grade environment-friendly buildings and the Government is providing fiscal incentives to buildings which are GBI-certified.

Owners of GBI-certified buildings are entitled to income tax exemptions, equivalent to the additional capital expenditure, to green their building. Buyers of green buildings from developers will also be exempted from stamp duty equivalent to the additional cost incurred to green their building.

Sustainable transport

To facilitate the use of electric vehicles (EV) in the country, the Government is in the process of preparing the EV Infrastructure Roadmap, which includes a fleet test programme for electric vehicles. The implementation of this fleet test will be the benchmark in developing a strategic plan and framework as well as identification of entities that will benefit the electric vehicle industry, in areas of services and new business opportunities.

Green Technology Roadmap

Under the Green Technology Roadmap, a baseline study is currently being conducted to ascertain the overall green technology applications in six sectors, namely, energy, transport, building, water and waste management, manufacturing industries and ICT applications.

Green Technology Financing Scheme

A RM1.5bil soft loan scheme called the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS) was launched by the Government early this year to encourage the participation of companies and entrepreneurs in green technology. The Government bears 2% of the interest rate charged and provides a guarantee of 60% on the financing amount, with the remaining 40% being taken by banking institutions.

Green townships in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya

The ministry, together with the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (MGTC), is developing a green township framework, a green township rating system based on the Common Carbon Metric (CCM) and carbon

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