LETTER | Today, in conjunction with Sacred People Sacred Earth Day of Action initiated by the international communities through the “Greenfaith” coalition - the biggest global religious-based climate day in history - Malaysian Interfaith Climate Change Network (MICCN), Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim), Friendship Group of Inter-Religious Services (FGIS) and the coalition of religious-based NGOs, civil society organisations, express our full commitment to defend climate justice and the future of the earth from destruction and pollution that have resulted in the current climate emergency.
Thus, we will continuously strive to spread a clear understanding to all respective religious communities on the dire importance of conserving the environment as one of God’s greatest creations and blessings.
As such, in conjunction with today’s momentous occasion, together we are launching the campaign "Destroying the Earth is against My Religion”.
At the same time, we would like to stress that this valuable effort should come with a shared commitment from all parties including the government and private sector, and not limited to ordinary citizens alone.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic which has shown links to environmental issues, we would like to express our concerns on the continuation of shared efforts in combating environment and climate change.
It has been disheartening to observe responses from many governments of the world who have been discriminating against the issue of climate change, particularly in channelling financial resources through multiple economic packages to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this context, it is important for us to look at the Greenness Stimulus Index (GSI) produced by Finance for Biodiversity Initiatives (F4B) that evaluates the performance of governments handling Covid-19, especially in the economic sphere by contributing to sustainable growth, protecting biodiversity, and protecting against climate change.
The analysis found that stimulus packages announced by the majority of nations show a net negative impact on the environment. It also found that the majority of funds allocated were for initiatives that were bad for the environment, though there were some signs of improvement.
Overall, the report found that a total of US$4.6 trillion (RM18.9 trillion) out of a total of US$14.9 trillion in stimulus packages that were announced contributed to sectors concerning the environment.
Within Southeast Asia, three countries were analysed: Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Singapore’s stimulus package scored negatively on issues of the environment and climate change, compared to Indonesia and the Philippines, which were found to have a mix of negative and positive initiatives while having an overall negative score.
These indicators should be a guide to countries in Southeast Asia, including those that were not included like Malaysia to ensure that Covid-19 stimulus packages involve sustainable development for future generations and an answer to the climate crisis the world is facing.
Having said so, the economic stimulus package should be expanded to support the initiative to combat the issue of the environment and in turn, the climate justice agenda.
Besides economic packages, the government’s commitment to international initiatives such as Carbon Neutrality 2050 under the Paris Agreement should always be checked and improved to ensure that we are on the right path, and not delay the achievement of those targets within the appointed time frame.
Then, in this context, with all Malaysians, we will continue to push the government to be serious in handling climate change, and not focus only on reviving the economy in its literal sense alone.
MUHAMMAD FAISAL ABDUL AZIZ is the coordinator of the Malaysian Interfaith Climate Change Network (MICC) and president of the Muslim Youth Movement Malaysia (Abim).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.