In December 2021, Malaysia experienced three (3) consecutive days of heavy downpour, constant rain on an unprecedented scale affecting eight states. The country suffered an estimated loss of Ringgit Malaysia Fifteen Billion (RM 15,000,000,000.00) to the Malaysian economy,1 close to seventy thousand (70,000) victims affected2 and most unfortunately, a total of fifty-four (54) deaths and two (2) people missing.3 Described as a one in 100-year weather event,4 was this catastrophe a result of nature running its course, an act of God? Or was it caused by the acts and omissions of mankind?
Experts believe that one of the main causes of the flood is due to climate change. Environmentalist, Dr Renard Siew claims that the flood “is a clear example of an unpredictable weather event as a result of high carbon emissions”.5 It is clear that climate change (more specifically, global warming due to carbon emissions) has contributed to this disaster, and many others throughout the globe.
Thus, it is imperative that the necessary remedial action, including the enactment of laws regulating climate change, is taken by those responsible to combat this ever-growing global issue. This article seeks to explore the laws governing carbon emissions in Malaysia.
In Malaysia, the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (“EQA 1974”) is the main legislation which governs the protection and conservation of the environment. Section 21 and 51 of the EQA 1974 provides the Minister charged with the responsibility for environment protection, the power to create regulations which specify the acceptable conditions for the emission of environmentally hazardous substances and pollutants as well as regulations prohibiting the emission into the environment of any gaseous matters.
In exercising the powers conferred to it under Section 21 and 51 of the EQA 1974, the Minister has created several regulations which govern carbon emissions in Malaysia, most notably the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014 (“Clean Air Regulations”) which provides that an owner or occupier of a premise involved in any activity or industry listed in the First Schedule of the Clean Air Regulations, including power plants, waste fuel plants, asphalt mixing plants and others, shall incorporate measures to reduce the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere in accordance with the Best Available Techniques Economically Achievable.