THE successful transition to a high-income country through sustainable means will make Malaysia a model for other emerging economies while contributing to the global climate struggle.
Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he believed Malaysia could offer a new development model, one where economic ambitions need not come at an environmental cost.
In his keynote address during the opening of the Third International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia, yesterday, Najib said: “Part of this model is building the right political conditions to foster green growth.
“That is why I was so pleased to argue successfully at the recent Apec (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit for a reduction in trade tariffs for environmental goods. It is also why we are working towards a global climate deal at next month’s UN conference in Qatar, where I will urge Malaysia’s delegates to focus on green growth.
“The opportunities are too great to ignore. One of my ambitions is to encourage our green industries to expand and innovate, not just because it is good for the environment, but because it is so plainly good for our economy.”
Najib said the economic case for the benefits of green technology had never been stronger as it had made buildings and factories more efficient, and businesses more productive.
“Energy-saving products ease the pressure on household budgets, boosting consumer spending power. And green industries create well-paid jobs and attract substantial investments.
“The global green business sector is now worth $3.6 trillion (RM11.04 trillion), and is growing at a remarkable rate.
“A study done for the German government shows the market for clean energy technology could double over the next decade.”
Najib said fast-growing Asian nations had taken a strategic decision to marshal public funds in support of clean energy, with Korea spending two per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on green industries and China $50 billion on renewable energy.
He said Asia had last year grabbed about 38 per cent of the global low-carbon market with countries like Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam featured in the top 50 countries by market share.
Najib said Asia found itself at the heart of the climate debate as it faced some of the worst effects, with natural disasters taking a heavy toll on its people and economies.
“More people are at risk from climate change in Asia and the Pacific than anywhere else and at the same time fast becoming one of its main causes. Asia is projected to produce 40 per cent of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gases by the next decade due to the acute problem of deforestation and increased demand for energy and transport.”
Najib said the next eight years in Malaysia would be critical as the country strived to meet its carbon and economic targets – a 40 per cent cut in emissions and a $15,000 per capita income.
“We must find the narrow path where climate and development ambitions overlap. Meaningful action on climate change must include each of the big contributors – energy, transport and industry.
“It will rely on the innovations and commitment of our green entrepreneurs and opportunities for government to show leadership by setting a clear direction, starting with energy. As an economist, I believe once there is a clear signal from governments that the low-carbon transition is under way, markets will start pricing zero-carbon vehicles accordingly and more consumers will start buying them.
“I believe we have the potential to become a regional hub for electric vehicles and that is why we reviewed the National Automative Policy to stimulate investments in electric vehicles, with research grants and tax incentives.”