Key Messages to Policymakers
• Low carbon society is the way forward to strong, sustainable cities and regions.
• Internationally funded joint research on LCS is essential to developing countries.
• Good scientific research is cornerstone to effective implementation of LCS policies.
• Policies supported by science are effective for realising GHG emission reduction.
• Highest-level government support greatly expedites LCS science to LCS actions.
Malaysia, like most other rapidly urbanising ASEAN countries, though not a significant source of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), has taken actions to address climate change through various environmental, economic and social initiatives over the years. In 2009, Malaysia voluntarily set a target for GHG reduction of up to 40 % in terms of energy intensity of GDP by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Following that, a series of national-level key policies aiming at guiding the nation towards addressing climate change holistically, ensuring climate-resilient development, developing a low carbon economy and promoting green technology have been formulated. These include the National Policy on Climate Change (MNRE 2009), National Green Technology Policy (KeTTHA 2009a), National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan (KeTTHA 2009b) and the Green Neighbourhood Planning Guideline (JPBDSM 2012), among others. These are important in providing a framework for achieving Malaysia's broader sustainable development goals, while the country elevates itself to become a high-income nation by 2020 (PEMANDU 2010). At the national level, the Malaysian Government is positioning the ecosystem, value system and supply chain to create a vibrant low-carbon economy. Apart from national mitigation and adaptation strategies for addressing the impact of climate change, there is a need to also look into regional and local resilient policies to reduce GHG emissions, especially in major cities and economic development corridors involving many urban conurbations. It is indeed at the regional and local levels that climate change policies may be operationalised and see their effects.
The International Energy Agency estimates that urban areas currently account for two thirds of the world's energy-related GHG emissions, and this is expected to rise to about 74 % by 2030 (World Bank 2010). Cities especially in developing countries with rapid population growth and economic development are consuming vast natural resources, generating enormous amounts of wastes and emitting large volumes of GHGs. Despite the fact that cities are the main carbon emission contributors, experts largely agree that cities nonetheless offer the greatest opportunity for mitigating climate change. City-based climate change policies are proven to be effective and efficient, feasible and relatively easy to deliver as compared to national climate change policies. Many cities, predominantly in developed countries, have established action plans and road maps to tackle climate change issues. However, difficult challenges lie ahead of cities in developing and transition nations in Asian regions, including Malaysian cities, where urban population is high and growing fast, economic growth is rapid and general awareness of climate change is relatively low; there appears to be an observable lack of knowledge, experience and urgency in mitigating climate change at the city and regional levels.
In line with the Malaysian Government's objectives to strengthen economic competitiveness and improve quality of life, and its aspiration for promoting green economic growth and greater sustainability, Iskandar Malaysia (IM), a rapidly developing economic corridor established in 2006, sets out to be the first urban region in Malaysia to formulate and implement a city-regional level climate change action plan – the Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 (LCSBP-IM2025). Optimistically, the LCSBP-IM2025, being perhaps among the first few city-regional level climate change action plans in developing countries, does not only benefit IM in laying out a clear sustainable development pathway for the urban region but also other Malaysian and Asian cities and regions through the sharing and dissemination of good practice and experiences gained in drawing up the Blueprint for implementation. The purpose of this paper is to outline the experiences gained and lessons learnt through the multidisciplinary 'Science to Action' (science to policy to implementation) approach to drawing up and mainstreaming the LCSBP-IM2025 for implementation in IM.