From floods to heatwaves, call to action for climate change needed

06 Jun 2023 04:32pm
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SHAH ALAM - A call for action is needed as Malaysia is now facing a new challenge by battling extreme heat just months after grappling with floods.

Unicef Malaysia Youth Climate Champions Consultant Mogesh Sababathy said the temperature soared to 36 degrees Celsius but these days, it felt like a scorching 46 degrees Celsius.

"A viral incident in Beaufort, Sabah has brought attention to the scorching temperatures and serves as a stark reminder that Malaysia is not immune to the escalating consequences of climate change," he said.

The urgency to address the climate crisis, Mogesh said, was undeniable as heatwaves had far-reaching impacts beyond our discomfort.

Unicef reported that by 2050, almost 2.2 billion children, nearly every child on Earth, would face high heatwave frequency.

Currently, the report revealed that 559 million children endure these conditions, with an additional 624 million facing other heat-related challenges, emphasising the need for immediate action.

He said it was crucial to acknowledge that climate change was predominantly caused by anthropogenic or man-made factors.

"The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are among the key contributors to the climate crisis.

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"On this occasion of World Environment Day, it is an opportune time for us to reflect on Malaysia's stance in safeguarding our planet," he said.

Mogesh said it was important for Malaysians, especially the children and youth to unite in the cause of protecting and preserving our environment.

"According to the Change for Climate (2020) report by UNDP, Unicef and EcoKnights, 92 per cent of young Malaysians are aware of environmental issues and recognise the climate crisis.

"However, as a young person, I feel frustrated by the insufficient collective response to this crisis as we acknowledge the planet's plight, yet it seems that we don't take the problem seriously enough," he said.

He said children and youth play a vital role in addressing climate change, offering critical perspectives and driving constructive action.

"Their passionate voices and ability to inspire change can propel society forward by actively engaging in sustainability initiatives, raising awareness and advocating for stronger environmental policies," he expressed.

He advised that alternatives should be considered, such as carpooling, cycling, or walking instead of driving alone, to cut carbon emissions and save on fuel and parking costs.

"We should also make mindful food choices, favouring plant-based meals and reducing meat consumption for a smaller carbon footprint.

"Choosing locally sourced, organic food to minimise environmental impact and actively engaging in local environmental initiatives, volunteering, participating in clean-ups, and raising awareness.

"We can reduce plastic waste, carry reusable bags, water bottles, straws, and choose minimally packaged products, conveying the demand for sustainability," he advised.

The Malaysian government has taken steps to reduce plastic waste with the aim to ban plastic bags for retail purposes by 2025.

However, it was crucial to recognise that public awareness and education were critical to making this policy a success.

"Creating real change in reducing plastic waste requires more than just government pressure, and it is crucial that the government works in collaboration with businesses and individuals to provide alternative solutions to plastic bags.

"It is important to recognise the relevance of this action in the larger context of the climate crisis, and while reducing plastic waste is crucial, as it's not the only solution to the environmental challenges we face.

"We hold the power to make a difference by taking practical actions to reduce our environmental impact, and it is better to highlight the need for systemic change and demand action from our government and corporations to protect our planet," he said.

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