From Copenhagen to Sabah: 1Earth, 1Climate Change; 1Najib?

By Saves DK

From Copenhagen to Sabah – Does the threat of Climate Change ‘change’ according to Time Zones?

Dear Prime Minister Najib Razak,

Once again, we welcome your serious and determined efforts to reduce carbon emission to help halt global warming in the interests of our future generations.

Surely, the first important step to CUTTING (rather than increasing) carbon emission is to cancel the proposed coal power plant to be built in Felda Sahabat, Lahad Datu, which is very close to the various pristine, precious natural paradise of Darvel Bay, Coral Triangle Initiative, Tabin Wildlife Conservation area and so on, which make the East Coast of Sabah one of the remaining natural treasures of the world.

You have asked for our views “on what more we can do to ensure a greener Malaysia, so that we can learn from each other.” Great! Here are some. We do not dream that you would actually ‘learn’ from humble Sabahans like us, but we would be very grateful already if you could at least be consistent in your position on climate change and coal.

You have asked Sabah to accept the “dirty, environmentally not friendly” coal power plant even though:

  1. Sabah does NOT produce coal, and all the coal used for the proposed power plant would have to be IMPORTED all the way from Indonesia.

    We can understand why countries like China and USA use coal — because coal is produced locally in these countries; but we are puzzled by why we are forced to import toxic trash like coal when we don’t need it nor want it here in Sabah!

  2. Sabah has ALTERNATIVES to generate electricity without resorting to dirty coal.

    As a major palm oil producer, we — especially in the East Coast of Sabah — have plenty of empty fruit bunches left over everyday, a natural waste product of cultivating palm oil, which could be easily used for generating bio-mass power. All it takes is for your government to take steps to tap into this abundantly and easily available resource of Sabah. Yet, it does not seem that your government is serious about taking any other initiative which would save Sabah from coal.

    Or, we could either use the natural gas produced in Kimanis, Sabah itself or — if your government insists on depriving Sabahans of their own natural resources by exporting it all the way to Sarawak — then at least exchange the export of our natural gas to Sarawak with hydro-electricity power from Bakun Dam, Sarawak, which your government now plans to export all the way — across the mountains, forests and even ocean — to West Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Anywhere but Sabah, even though it is feasible to supply to the East Coast of Sabah.

    Basically, your government has:

    • forced us to give up our own natural gas from Kimanis, Sabah,

    • refused to at least give us clean hydro-power from Bakun, Sarawak in exchange,

    • exporting Bakun hydro-power to everywhere EXCEPT Sabah, and then

    • forced us in Sabah to IMPORT DIRTY COAL from Indonesia!!

    Why is it that when it comes to DIVERTING clean energy sources AWAY FROM Sabah, your government is willing to leave no stone unturned regardless of how difficult it may be, but when it comes to POLLUTING Sabah with dirty, environmentally unfriendly coal, your government is determined to force it down our throats and even ask us to sacrifice?

    This basically sums up Sabahans’ bewilderment with your decision to force us to accept coal:

    “The bottom line is Sabah has alternatives to having a coal-fired power plant and the technology is available now, what we seem to have is a lack of will from certain parties who say that there is no alternative but this is not true, we have alternatives. Imagine what a great model for the world Sabah will be with this!”

    Whether the proposed coal power plant passes the so-called “Environmental Impact Assessment” and whether there really is such a thing as “clean coal technology” are completely beside the point — because Sabah DOES NOT NEED COAL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Therefore, we are still very puzzled by why you must FORCE us to accept coal, given your own apparently strong stand on climate change and dislike of coal whenever you spoke OUTSIDE of Sabah.

    In Paris, when addressing the Unesco General Conference on 6 October 2009, you have said:

    “…The forthcoming summit in Copenhagen must reflect a strong commitment and action to reverse serious deterioration of planet earth.

    The tragedies in the region such as the earthquake in Padang, Indonesia, hurricanes in the Philippines, tsunami in Samoa and major floods in southern India “should remind us of how fragile the world we live in is, and how interdependent our world has become“.

    Najib said that although the task of the policymakers and leaders in ensuring that these challenges were met was not easy, they could not afford the price of inaction.

    “We need to do what is right even if it is hard. These are the challenges of our times. It can neither be left unmet nor unresolved.

    “They must be addressed head on by the world community with a concerted will and common purpose drawing upon our reservoir of good will and collective experience.””

    But how can there be “the next logical extension of the national philosophy would be the concept of 1Region and ultimately 1World” when you can’t even have a 1Coal Policy? (Or is this ‘anomaly’ only peculiar to Sabah — the only Malaysian State where ALL EXCEPTIONS APPLY?)

    In Kuala Lumpur, on 31 October 2009, in your keynote address at Malaysia’s electricity utility monopoly (the parent company of those who are hell-bent on setting up the coal power plant in Sabah), Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s 60th anniversary celebration, you said:

    “…The government needs to revise its energy policy, ..the current one [is] obsolete and in need of a revamp… was proven to be costly, both environmentally and financially.

    “I don’t like the current energy policy. It’s not right,” he told some 1,500 TNB workers attending the event.

    “…coal is what we call DIRTY technology, it’s NOT environmentally friendly,”

    As revealed in Najib’s maiden Budget recently, the prime minister told the media that his administration had started studying sectors like renewable energy and green technology to replace the current policy.

    “It’s not a short-term solution, it’s a long one but we need to make the first step,” he said.”

    Surely, the ‘first step’ is NOT to build more coal power plant, certainly not in the State of Sabah which is heavily dependent on its natural treasures for its tourism business.

    On your blog on 21 November 2009, you have said:

    “With nations recently meeting to discuss a climate change treaty, ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December, I’m reminded that the environment is everyone’s responsibility, and that we must all change our mindset to give it greater consideration. We should do this especially as we are custodians for future generations.

    New Malaysian initiatives unveiled recently leave me feeling ever optimistic that we are doing more to preserve what we have, in order that our children and their children may enjoy our unique, natural wonders for years to come.“

    And on your blog on 14 December 2009, you then said:

    “Climate change is probably the most critical issue facing mankind today. To underscore our concern and our commitment towards saving Planet Earth, I will attend the forthcoming UN Climate Change Summit. I will present Malaysia’s own position, and participate working to achieve a global consensus so that collectively, nations around the world will make a positive contribution towards reducing carbon emission and in turn save Planet Earth.”

    And we believe you are rubbing shoulders with world leaders in Copenhagen this week, you would continue to maintain the image that your administration is serious about reversing climate change.

    Yet, very disappointingly, when you came to Sabah on 8 November 2009, all your determination to fight global warming and reduce CO2 emission completely went out of the window and you have forced us ‘SACRIFICE’ UNNECESSARILY (including our natural gas from Kimanis) and to accept DIRTY coal:

    “We have to accept what is good and we have to be realistic. If we understand and are willing to sacrifice we will achieve higher level of development for Sabah,”

    Even though you yourself had said earlier that coal is NOT ‘GOOD’ — it’s DIRTY, and ENVIRONMENTALLY UNFRIENDLY?

    Does it mean that all the “decisive actions” and “uneasy tasks” necessary to tackle climate change could be ignored in the name of “achieving higher level of development”? Is your ‘conviction’ on tackling climate change so feeble, after all? If so, why do you think in Copenhagen, the developing world should agree to the reduction of carbon emission and to sacrifice their goal of “achieving higher level of development”?

    Indeed, you have forced us to accept dirty coal despite our State leadership’s collective strong stance in REJECTING this coal power plant earlier in April 2008:

    “After weighing the pros and cons, the [State] Cabinet decided to SCRAP the proposed project, because we DO NOT WANT TO RISK the WELFARE AND HEALTH of the communities in the area [in Lahad Datu] as well as any ADVERSE IMPACT on the environment… I know some say with today’s technology, the proposed plant is safe and clean BUT some EXPERTS also DISAGREE.”

    Nonetheless, despite your unfair treatments towards Sabahans on this topic, we still wish you well in Copenhagen and hope that you would “clearly demonstrates the importance that Malaysian attaches to the issue of climate change”, and make all of us proud — not just those in Copenhagen, but also those of us in Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Tawau, and Sabah as a whole:

    – By being CONSISTENT, and having 1 Climate Change/ Carbon Emission policy (and 1 only) for your government, which does not change according to time zones or audiences, including when it comes to Sabah.

    Please, CANCEL the coal power plant in Sabah — this would be the best leadership example and gift you could give to Copenhagen, and the future generations of the world.

    Malaysia PM to offer CO2 reductions in Copenhagen
    Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:04pm GMT
    By David Chance and Razak Ahmad

    KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s government will offer “credible” cuts in its emissions of carbon dioxide at the Copenhagen climate change summit in a bid to halt global warming, Prime Minister Najib Razak told Reuters on Sunday.

    Najib will be among more than 110 world leaders who will meet in Copenhagen next week to attend a summit to try to clinch a deal on deeper emissions cuts by rich nations, steps by developing nations to cut their carbon pollution and finance to help the poor adapt to climate change.

    “We are willing to offer our commitment, I am not just going to call on the developed world I am going to commit Malaysia and I am going to commit Malaysia to very credible cuts which means we have to spend, which we will do,” Najib said in the interview.

    Najib said the cuts were still being worked on.

    The United Nations has said a full, legal treaty to expand or replace the existing Kyoto Protocol is out of reach at the talks, after two years of troubled negotiations, and is likely to be agreed some time in 2010.

    UN data shows Malaysia’s carbon emissions in 2006 stood at 187 million tones or 7.2 tonnes from each Malaysian.

    Although that figure is far less than neighboring Indonesia, which is the world’s third largest emitter with 2.3 billion tonnes or 10 tonnes per capita, according to Indonesian government data, Najib said all nations must contribute.

    “It has to be predicated on the fundamental principles of the Kyoto protocol and the UN Framework on Climate Convention,” he said.

    “Amongst which the most important being the common but differentiated responsibilities that the developed world must deliver against larger cuts in terms of carbon emissions and that the developing world should be assisted particularly in terms of finanancial assistance, capacity buiding and technology.”


    Najib said that despite the current economic turmoil, which has seen the United States and Europe plunge into huge budget deficits, the fight against climate change had to take priority.

    The United Nations wants to raise $10 billion a year from 2010-12 in quick-start funds to help the poor cope with global warming and move away from fossil fuels. But few nations have offered quick-start cash.

    In the longer term, the United Nations estimates the fight against global warming is likely to cost $300 billion a year from 2020, largely to help developing nations adapt to impacts such as droughts, floods and heat waves.

    “If we really talking about it we must walk the talk (on funding). Otherwise we are just going to face a very uncertain future and the effects will be quite catastrophic,” Najib said.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 11:01 am

    Thailand has killed off all coal-fired power plant proposals, preferring to pay for more expensive gas and renewable energy plants. What does Bolehland do ? Put up more coal-fired plants, flood more rainforests for hydroelectric dams in the middle of nowhere. Build first, worry about the consequences later. This is the BN way. Contracts come first, other considerations not important.

    The only slogan that is compatible with BN is this: Cakap tak serupa bikin.

  2. #2 by OrangRojak on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 11:22 am

    I think East Malaysia has enormous potential for large-scale green power projects. I’m not sure about bio-mass generation – there are working bio-mass power stations here and there around the world, but I think transporting the mass and dealing with residue might remain a problem.

    I visited a 2GW Coal-Fired power station at the weekend in Johor – very interesting, and even beautiful in places! What strikes me is that the site occupied an enormous area. Malaysia is very close to the equator, so a good deal of its electricity supply is used to remove energy from houses and offices (aircon removes the heat from solar radiation). Why are there no solar-power projects in Malaysia? A solar power installation the size of the plant I visited would receive many times more GW of solar power from the sun than the plant generates. What’s more, I noticed vast roofs at the power plant for keeping rain off the coal nearest the plant.

    If a solar power station was built in the same style as those roofs, industrial, office or even residential units could be built beneath. There is no reason to build such a roof without gaps (leaving gaps between the panels would keep the air beneath fresher, allow some natural light to fall on the area below, and reduce roof load from air movement and rain.

    I was running some computers 24/7 for a project recently, so we were using an average of about 1.25kW. According to the annual mean insolation map at Wikipedia:
    Malaysia receives around 240W/m2 average insolation, so my 120m2 terraced house plot receives an average of 28kW. If we were to roof over our plot with photovoltaic panels, we’d need it to be better than 5% efficient to meet our needs for electricity. According to that well-known source of Democratic Truth wikipedia, the market average efficiency is 12-18%. Bingo!

    There are a couple of gains hidden in there: shading the house would reduce the need for aircon. Perhaps a builder would be able to tell me whether its cheaper to build a house with small windows or larger ones – you could have large, untinted windows in a house built under shade. And your plastic table and chairs you use outside, and the kids’ toys (and plastic parts on parked cars) would last longer! On the other hand, it wouldn’t rain properly, so gardeners need a solution for that (and possibly to grow more shade-tolerant species!), and it might take longer to dry laundry (balanced possibly against it being less likely to be rained on).

    Done on a single house basis, I don’t think the margins are great enough for energy security. There’s no reason why roads and shared spaces should not also be under such a roof. Something that would have an additional benefit would be to put pedestrian walkways and shopping precincts under such a roof. Malaysians always tell me they don’t walk because its too hot. I understand Malaysian history slightly pre-dates the invention of the motor car, so this seems more like an excuse than a reason to me. If Malaysians walked more (because it wasn’t quite so unpleasant), they’d have longer, more productive lives – and look better in tight clothing.

    It would be nice to see some credible research projects – particularly in places with electricity supply problems – that investigated the feasibility of such developments. Not only would Malaysia have some showcase projects to flip out when comparing green credentials, if there is a potential of such a project being feasible on a large scale, we could be market leaders for a change. It would also give something credible for our local research institutions to do work on.

    Sooner or later we have to accept that the ‘termite model’ of development – where we just dig up, scrape off and burn everything of value while we live up each other’s back passages in great mounds to increase the conversion rate – is not going to deliver a secure future for our grand children’s retirement. People need aspirations – solid, not hollow ones – to unite them. I don’t think it would hurt Malaysia, while it strives to solve its social and economic issues, to attempt to do it in a way that doesn’t leave an uninhabitable concrete toilet for its future generations.

  3. #3 by Voter on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 12:37 pm

    went pulau pinang lastweek. quite disappointed of the infra condition of pulau pinang . most of the road surface are uneven and damage. somemore the road signboard is still unclear some of signboard are blocking by tree or other signboard.
    YAB LIM. pls do something for Pinang infra !@

  4. #4 by lkt-56 on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 1:09 pm

    Good suggestions Dr.Rojak. Why didn’t any Malaysians think of this? Must be our education system and everything else, especially BTN courses stifling creative thoughts.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 1:19 pm

    “….to attempt to do it in a way that doesn’t leave an uninhabitable concrete toilet for its future generations” Rojakman

    Do you know that in 3 months’ time, they will start flooding the Bakun reservoir, and at full capacity, it will flood an area the size of Singapore ?

    Solar power is good, but commercially it hasn’t reached the viable economic sizes of gas or coal or nuclear plants. In the US, they encourage you to have your own energy saving device at home, or even in commercial buildings, but here they discourage you because it will result in even bigger losses for the utility if everyone has their own solar panel on on their roof.

    Everything about this government is lip service only. Ten years ago, they gave hundreds of solar devices to the rural aborigines under a UN sponsored programme – these broke down within the year, and now the interior is littered with solar panels that no longer work. Then TNB came up with so called initiatives for biomass plants – all publicised when the current Malaysian ambassador to the US was chairman of the utility. They conveniently forgot that the cost of interconnection – running transmission lines hundreds of kilometres to the TNB substations would cost more than the biomass plant itself. So these also died a natural death.

    And to be fair to this government, we are not alone in paying lip service to renewable energy – India and China are the biggest culprits in this game.

  6. #6 by Godfather on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 1:22 pm

    Tenaga has gone on record as being interested in the possibility of nuclear energy. If a RM50 million jet engine can be stolen from a military base in Sg Besi, you can bet your bottom dollar that radioactive uranium rods will soon be put up for sale on ebay courtesy of some smart Malaysians.

  7. #7 by frankyapp on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 7:37 pm

    C4 and jet engine could be stolen from military base,my goodness,how on earth can we trust Tenaga,a privatised entity to handle nuclear facilities. Well guys,I think it’s not even in my dream to allow it.

  8. #8 by ReformMalaysia on Monday, 21 December 2009 - 10:46 pm

    What the fxxx are 1Earth, 1Climate Change; 1Najib, 1Malaysia?…. What are those nonsenses when your party(UMNO) don’s even recognize human beings as 1HumanBeings . it is a fact that many UMNO leaders still thinking certain race deserve to treated better than other races?

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