Opening speech for Penang Green Agenda Workshop

Opening speech by Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang and Chairman of Penang Green Council during the Penang Green Agenda Workshop at Penang Institute on 24 March 2017:

Good morning everyone.

First and foremost, it is a great honour for me to officiate the two- year policy planning project – Penang Green Agenda. Today’s workshop is the first consultation activity for the Penang Green Agenda, involving the public sector and Key NGOs comprising environmental leaders on the continued sustainability of Penang.

Penang State Government has a vision of making Penang a “Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Healthier, and Happier” state launched in 2010. Since then, we kicked start a series of environmental initiatives to promote resource efficiency such as free CAT BUS, No Free Plastic Bags Every day, total ban on polystyrene food containers, giving incentives to green buildings, building cycling lanes, implementing Waste Segregation at Source policy.

We have achieved the highest recycling rate in the country of 32% as compared to the national average of 10.5% and hope to increase the current recycling rate from 32% to 40% by 2020. We are the first state to oppose Nuclear power energy plants in Malaysia and will continue to do so. We had never allowed logging on permanent forest reserves, not a single square inch has been touched. Furthermore, we have planted more than 271,000 new trees in Penang since 2008.

We have built dedicated bicycle lanes in our quest to make Penang a bicycle state. We have also set up Link Bike stations where anyone can rent a bike from any of the 25 stations and return it at another station. These bikes serve as a short distance transit vehicle to reduce/replace the use of motor vehicles, helping to avoid traffic congestion and reduce environmental pollution.

People often say that the environmental sustainability is driven by the demand of an affluent and developed society. We do not want to see environmental sustainability only as a luxury of the rich. Instead, we hope to see environmental sustainability as a driver of the economic opportunities. Who will benefit most from a cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and happier Penang? After all, it is the rakyat, you and me, all of us.

Climate change is considered the most serious global challenge of humankind. Recent data provided by the meteorological department shows that the minimum temperature in Penang has increased 1.5 degree Celsius over the last 51 years (1966-2015).  A few months ago, Penang Green Council has conducted a “Public Survey on Climate Change in Penang in 2016” together with USM and Water Watch Penang.

From the 1373 respondents, the results indicate that the majority (73.2%) feel that the climate of the past ten years has changed when compared to the present climate. More than 40 percent of the respondents rated environmental (45.7%), crime (43.8%), and economic issues (42.1%) as extremely important.

In terms of the Penang public’s general perception and understanding of climate change, the survey results indicate that the Penang public hold humans to be much more responsible for climate change than natural causes.

These results also revealed that the respondents’ knowledge on Carbon Footprint and Green House Gases is very limited. We hope that the Penang Transport Master Plan will eventually become a low carbon transportation plan which will also reduce carbon emission and air pollution in the state as well as resolve traffic congestion in the state.

Soon, Malaysian-based public listed companies with a market capitalisation over RM2 billion will be required to disclose their Sustainability Statement in their  annual reports issued for the financial year ending on or after 31 December 2016. This means economic players can no  longer neglect their responsibilities towards  environmental and social sustainability.

This is the right time for us to work on the Penang Green Agenda that combines environmental protection and economic growth to achieve sustainable development. Penang should be proud of having citizens with such dedication to secure the environment for the sake of our children’s future!

Let us make Penang the first green state in Malaysia. Make our world green so that our kids will remember us for the good we have done. I seek your cooperation and commitment to stay until end of the workshop. With great pleasure, the Penang Green Agenda Project will now officially begin!

Thank you.