“Malaysia needs to do much more – it can do better in many (climate) fields,” she added.
The prime minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
CLIMATE CHANGE ACT?
Renard Siew, a climate change advisor at the Centre for Governance and Political Studies, a Malaysian think-tank, said many local green groups welcomed the quick decision to merge the natural resources and environment ministries.
The move will consolidate work and make handling environmental issues easier, he noted.
Many environmentalists also now hope the government will bring in a “Climate Change Act” along with a national strategy for climate adaptation, first proposed in 2018 but sidelined amid political turmoil after 2020.
“(An act) would be a game-changer as it reaffirms the country’s steadfast commitment to delivering on climate action,” Siew said.
Nur Sakeenah Omar, a campaigner at Greenpeace Malaysia, said Anwar, who this month visited neighbouring Indonesia on his first overseas trip as leader, should also introduce a clean air or transboundary haze pollution act.
As an opposition leader since the 1990s, Anwar had a record of highlighting issues linked to climate change – including flooding, deforestation and air pollution – in both the media and parliament, according to Greenpeace Malaysia.
In mid-2021, he pointed to illegal logging in protected areas as a factor contributing to flooding in rural Kedah state, calling for better monitoring, after a government minister described the floods as an “act of God”.
WWF-Malaysia’s Chan urged the new government to focus on protecting nature and implementing commitments made at international climate and biodiversity summits.
The coalition’s political parties must also fulfil their election promises on the environment, he said.
“The new government provides us with an opportunity to reset our broken relationship with the natural world,” he added.
“We have an opportunity now to course-correct for the sake of people and the planet.”