Sarawak peatlands play crucial role in mitigating climate change

Lulie delivering her speech at the dinner.

By Lian Cheng and Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Sept 20: Due to the presence of large carbon pools, Sarawak and its peatlands play a uniquely important role in meeting Malaysia’s climate commitments of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (Tropi) director Dr Lulie Melling said Malaysia during last year’s UNFCCC COP-26 (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP 26) convention in Glasgow, agreed that it will reduce its GDP-based greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

“And Sarawak plays a uniquely important role in meeting the nation’s climate commitments and ambitions. Sarawak’s peatlands, plays a major role due to their large carbon pools, many of which have been disrupted due to land use change, weather and climate extremes.

“It is thus, our joint challenge, as scientists, as policymakers, and industry stakeholders, to work together, combining the vast resources and talents that the State of Sarawak has to offer, to reduce, mitigate and even halt climate change.

“Flux measurements, the core of the work done by our conference delegates, and a key pillar of our work here at Tropi, have been essential in providing GHG (greenhouse gases) exchange information over time and space,” said Lulie during the AsiaFlux Conference 2022 Gala Dinner held at Tropi this evening.

She said such empirical evidence and scientific data and insights, provide policymakers with a much-needed tool, in making informed policy decisions and charting the path forward to a low-carbon economy.

She was confident that AsiaFlux, Tropi and Sarawak, is well-positioned to address these environmental issues head on.

Lulie asserted the issue of climate change has been in discussion for decades with many aware of the issue but very few have been brave enough to take action.

She thus praised Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg for taking the bold decision to place sustainability at the forefront of Sarawak’s agenda.

On climate change which she described as a risk multiplier and has been happening more quickly than feared, she noted glaciers and ice sheets in polar and mountain regions are already melting faster than ever before, causing sea levels to rise and if no actions are taken, certain entire cities could find themselves underwater in the near future, with millions of people displaced.

“Climate change is a direct cause of soil degradation, and in many regions, crops that have thrived over centuries are struggling to survive, making food security more precarious.

“Such impact tends to fall primarily on the poor and vulnerable, pushing more people into poverty as a result,” said Lulie who is the AsiaFlux Conference 2022 organising chairwoman.

In other parts of the world, climate change also heightens competition for resources such as land, food and water, fueling socioeconomic tensions and mass displacement, leading to pollical unrest and violence, she added.

“Today’s global economic crisis, across inflation and recession concerns, is simply a storm that will pass and that we will all recover from. But the same cannot be said about the looming catastrophe of global warming.

“This is a global threat, one which we are all, currently facing. But this is a race that we can win and a challenge, that we must overcome,” said Lulie. — DayakDaily