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Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Thursday, 26thMarch 2009:

Shared responsibility crucial in addressing global warming and climate change

I call upon all Malaysian to show their support to the “Earth Hour” campaign by switching off their lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on 28th Mac 2009, Saturday as a committed effort to fight global warming and save the earth that we are living in.

During a recent meeting, I had urged Klang Municipal Council to participate in this effort when I met its Yang di-Pertua, Tuan Mislan bin Tugiu.

Together with Klang based Resident Associations and NGOs, I have called upon the people of Klang to support the Earth Hour campaign.

The effect of global warming is very obvious in Malaysia. Temperatures in famous hill resorts like Cameron Highlands and Fraser Hill have increased while the southernmost state of Johor and the east coast has witnessed several extraordinary and catastrophic floods.

However, the government is complacent about combating global warming. Pantai Member of Parliament, Nurul Izzah, has raised issues relating to global warming in Parliament in July 2008.

But her concerns were cut-off with diplomatic answers leaning towards the country having signed the Kyoto Protocol and taking part in Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

“Earth hour” campaign was initiated by a group of concerned citizens in Sydney Australia in 2007 where 220 million families and businesses had turned off their lights.

Last year, a total of 35 countries and approximately 100 million people took part in the campaign.

This year, 83 countries, 2398 cities, towns and municipalities, 5481 organizations, 7843 schools and 18783 businesses will participate. The Secretary-General of United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, has also urged global citizens to join the “Earth hour” campaign.

In Malaysia, apart from businesses and NGOs, the Selangor state government and Majlis Perbandaran Shah Alam will join the campaign by switching off the main lights. Although I am heartened by this endorsement, we need more government bodies and corporations to follow suit.

The theme for this year's campaign is “Vote Earth”. Here the organizers have candidly transformed the campaign to a global election with appeals to people to make a choice between the earth and global warming.

People all over the world will switch off their lights as a symbolic vote for the earth. The election result will be submitted to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The conference will determine policies for tackling global warming.

Global warming has caused the melting of icecaps in arctic, abnormal droughts, floods and radical changes of climate.

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since 1850, eleven among twelve warmest years are from 1995 to 2006. Global average sea level is 1.3mm/yr since 1961 and increased tremendously to 3.1mm/yr since 1993.

The satellite data since 1978 shows arctic sea ices decrease of 2.7% a decade and areas of mountain glaciers and snow have declined in both hemispheres.

The report also stipulates the impact of global warming in Southeast Asia. By 2050, freshwater availability at main river basin is projected to decrease; floods caused by sea or river will be disastrous to the people and endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise.

Therefore, the federal and state governments need to do more to cut down the emissions of green house gases. We must upgrade our public transportation system, reduce private vehicles on road, check the viability to impose pollution tax on industries, encourage industries to use green technology, give grants to higher education institutions to research on green technology and provide environmental education for citizens.

* Charles Santiago, DAP Selangor Vice Chairman & MP for Klang



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