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Vulnerability of Climate Change and Hardcore Poverty in Malaysia



R.A. Begum, C. Siwar, R.D.Z.R.Z. Abidin and Joy Jacqueline Pereira
 
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ABSTRACT

Malaysia is also experiencing adverse effects of climate change that lead to impacts on water resources, food supply, coastal zone, public health, human settlement and others and necessitate national and international responses to face climate change. The economic resilience of nations to weather the climate change effects differ between countries. To further compound this, within a particular country there are different levels of vulnerability resilience reflecting differences in location, socio-economic circumstances and level of preparedness. As resources are limited, particularly in developing countries, there is a need to prioritise which vulnerable groups should receive the assistance to increase their level of preparedness. This study briefly highlights an overview of GHG emissions and incidence of poverty and hardcore poverty in Malaysia. The study also identifies the risk and vulnerable factors and demonstrate the possible vulnerable states based on present and future climate projection undertaken by National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) and hardcore poverty in Malaysia.

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  How to cite this article:

R.A. Begum, C. Siwar, R.D.Z.R.Z. Abidin and Joy Jacqueline Pereira, 2011. Vulnerability of Climate Change and Hardcore Poverty in Malaysia. Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 4: 112-117.

DOI: 10.3923/jest.2011.112.117

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jest.2011.112.117
 
Received: March 01, 2010; Accepted: April 08, 2010; Published: August 21, 2010



INTRODUCTION

Malaysia is experiencing a warming trend for the past few decades. In the southern areas of peninsular Malaysia, the frequency of long dry periods tended to be higher with a significant increase in the mean and variability of the length of the dry spells whereas, all the indices of wet spells in these areas show a decreasing trend (Deni et al., 2008). Increasing temperatures would result in more extreme weather and climate variability. In Malaysia, the temperature and rainfall are projected to increase between +0.6 to 3.4°C and -1 to +32% in 60 years respectively (INC, 2000). The rise in sea level is about 13-94 cm in 100 years (INC, 2000). These can lead to impacts on water resources, food supply, coastal zone, public health and others and necessitate national and international responses to face climate change. To address the climate change issues, government has taken many initiatives including promoting utilisation of renewable energy, energy efficiency in industry, building and transport sector, restructuring public transport system, cleaner fuel, stringent emission standards and alternative industrial processes technique. In 2008, a cabinet committee on climate change has been instituted which chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Establishment of this committee exhibits Malaysia’s higher commitment in addressing climate change and is important to integrate the issue of national development planning. This study briefly highlights an overview of GHG emissions and incidence of poverty and hardcore poverty in Malaysia. The study also identifies the risk and vulnerable factors and demonstrates the possible vulnerable states based on present and future climate projection undertaken by National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) and hardcore poverty in Malaysia.

GHG EMISSIONS IN MALAYSIA

Malaysia has been classified as a transition economy and there is no longer traditional approaches (donor support) as an option for the development activities. This rapid development has brought about significant impacts to the natural environment (Begum and Pereira, 2009). In Malaysia, the primary energy supply and demand have been increasing in tandem with economic growth from 1990 to 2005 (Ninth Malaysia Plan, 2006), showing the economic development and energy consumption have yet to be de-coupled. Final energy demand, which was 14,560 and 29,996 ktoe in 1991 and 2000, respectively, increased to 34,586 ktoe in 2003 (Jaafar et al., 2008). Begum et al. (2009) also demonstrated energy consumption as one of the largest contributor to the ecological footprint for each Malaysian. The escalating consumption of energy that heavily relied on fossil fuels had resultant significant increment in emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) mainly carbon dioxide from the sector (Begum and Pereira, 2009). Over the years, GHG emissions have been increasing in Malaysia. In 2000, the total CO2 emission from energy sector is 118,806 kilotonne. Per capita emission rose from 4.21 tonnes in 1994 to 6.29 tonnes in 2001 (Tiong et al., 2007). Figure 1 shows the sectoral CO2 emissions from energy sector in 2000. Industrial and transport sectors are the biggest CO2 emitters in Malaysia.

INCIDENCE OF POVERTY AND HARDCORE POVERTY IN MALAYSIA

During the Eighth Malaysia Plan period (2000-2005), the concept and measurement of poverty were reviewed to take into account the social and economic changes that have taken place in Malaysia since 1977 when the Poverty Line Income (PLI) was first formulated. The PLI was substantially revised in 2005 and made up of two components, i.e., the food PLI and the non-food PLI. The PLI is defined separately for each household in the Household Income Survey (HIS) based on its size, demographic composition and its location (state and stratum). A household is considered poor if its income is less than its own PLI, that is, it lacks the resources to meet the basic needs of its individual members. A household is considered hardcore poor if its monthly household income is less than the food PLI. The food component of the revised PLI is based on the advice of nutritionists, dieticians and medical professionals (Ninth Malaysia Plan, 2006). Table 1 shows the incidence of poverty and hardcore poverty by state using the 2005 methodology. The incidence of poverty and hardcore poverty among Malaysians decreased from 8.5 and 1.9% in 1999 to 5.7 and 1.2% in 2004, respectively, due to the successful implementation of poverty eradication programmes and favourable economic growth. In Malaysia, the incidence of hardcore poverty shows higher for the states of Sabah, Terengganu, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan compared to the other states.


Image for - Vulnerability of Climate Change and Hardcore Poverty in Malaysia
Fig. 1: Sectoral CO2 emissions (Energy-2000), (Azman, 2007)

Table 1: Per capita Poverty Line Income (PLI), incidence of poverty and hardcore poverty, 2004
Image for - Vulnerability of Climate Change and Hardcore Poverty in Malaysia
1Includes Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan, 2Based on 2005 methodology, 3Based on gross PLI, 4Based on gross food PLI and 5Less than 0.05%. Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006)

VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND HARDCORE POVERTY

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines vulnerability as the degree to which a system is susceptible to and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, the sensitivity and adaptive capacity of that system (IPCC, 2007). Abidin and Begum (2008) emphasised that within a particular country there are differing levels of vulnerability and resilience reflecting differences in location, socio-economic circumstances and level of preparedness. Literature shows that population’s vulnerability to climate change depends on various factors (WHO, 2003; Lemmen and Warren, 2004; Ebi et al., 2006; Haines et al., 2006; Confalonieri et al., 2007) such as; age distribution; population density; income level and distribution; food availability; local environmental condition; geographical position; economic development; pre-existing health status; and quality and availability of public health care.

Among and across the communities and demographic subgroups, the most affected and risk groups are children, elderly people, indigenous populations and native peoples, nomadic populations, chronically ill people, people with a low income, homeless people and coastal communities (Lemmen and Warren, 2004; Ebi et al., 2006; Confalonieri et al., 2007). Table 2 shows the future climate change projections in Peninsular Malaysia based on the study undertaken by the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM). The data represent the maximum monthly values of two climate factors i.e., temperature and precipitation (rainfall). Table 2 reveals that in the future, there is a substantial increase in temperature and rainfall over the North East region compared to the other regions of Peninsular Malaysia.


Table 2: Future climate change projections in peninsular Malaysia
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*Difference = Average 2025-2034 and 2041-2050 minus Average 1984-1993. NAHRIM (2006)

Table 3: Most vulnerable states: Hardcore poverty and climate change
Image for - Vulnerability of Climate Change and Hardcore Poverty in Malaysia
NAHRIM (2006) and Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006)

Table 3 demonstrates the possible vulnerable states based on climate change projection undertaken by NAHRIM and hardcore poverty in Malaysia that is basically drawn from the Table 1 and 2. It can be assumed from Table 3 that Terengganu, Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah and Perak are the most possible vulnerable states in terms of hardcore poverty and projected temperature and rainfall changes. It also shows that the most vulnerable peoples due to climate change are the poor and hardcore poor who have relatively larger household members.

CONCLUSIONS

The economic resilience of nations to weather the climate change effects differ between countries. To further compound this, within a particular country there are different levels of vulnerability and resilience reflecting differences in location, socio-economic circumstances and level of preparedness. Coincidentally, it shows that Terengganu, Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah and Perak are the most possible vulnerable states based on present and future climate projection undertaken by NAHRIM and hardcore poverty in Malaysia. The most vulnerable peoples due to climate change are the poor and hardcore poor. As resources are limited, particularly in developing countries, there is a need to prioritise which vulnerable groups should receive the assistance to increase their level of preparedness.

In Malaysia, there is lack of comprehensive research to determine the most vulnerable areas and groups due to the climate change and poverty. So, this can be a future research to be undertaken by the Climate Change Research Group in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Furthermore, immediate responses through adaptation and mitigation approaches are necessary to reduce current vulnerability to the climate change that has already occurred.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors are greatly acknowledged to the research grant Dana Operasi Universiti Penyelidikan (OUP) in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Ref. No. UKM-OUP-PI-25-111/2009). An earlier version of this article was presented at the International Conference on Climate Change and Urban Poverty-Infrastructures of Development organized by the University of Manchester Brooks World Poverty Institute and BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 28 January 2009.

REFERENCES

1:  Abidin, R.D.Z.R.Z. and R.A. Begum, 2008. Climate change and health: Economic and social determinants of vulnerability and adaptation. Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Health Ministers' Conference on Climate Change and Health, A Publication of the Ministry of Health, Malaysia; Reference No. MOH/S/IMR/50.08 (PR); ISBN: 976-983-41126-3-9. pp: 78-85.

2:  Azman, Z.A., 2007. Climate change, energy and transport-a Malaysian perspective. Paper Presented at the National Seminar on Socio-Economic Impact of Extreme Weather and Climate Change, Organized by Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), 21-22 June 2007, Hotel Marriott, Putrajaya, Malaysia.

3:  Begum, R.A. and J.J. Pereira, 2009. Potential for tackling climate change in the building sector: The case of Malaysia. Proceeding of International Conference on Energy and the Environment: Reinvention for Developing Countries, June 15-20, Indonesia, pp: 4.1-4.7

4:  Confalonieri, U., B. Menne, R. Akhtar, K.L. Ebi, M. Hauengue et al., 2007. Human Health. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Parry, M.L., O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson (Eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., ISBN-13: 9780521880107, pp: 391-431
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5:  Deni, S.M., S. Jamaludin, W.Z.W. Zin and A.A. Jemain, 2008. Tracing trends in the sequences of dry and wet days over peninsular Malaysia. J. Environ. Sci. Technol., 1: 97-110.
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6:  Ebi, K.L., R.S. Kovats and B. Menne, 2006. An approach for assessing human health vulnerability and public health interventions to adapt to climate change. Environ. Health Perspect, 114: 1930-1934.
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8:  INC, 2000. Malaysia initial national communication. Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/malnc1.pdf.

9:  Jaafar, A.H., A.Q. Al-Amin and C. Siwar, 2008. Environmental impact of alternative fuel mix in electricity generation in Malaysia. Renewable Energy, 33: 2229-2235.
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10:  Lemmen, D.S. and F.J. Warren, 2004. Climate change impacts and adaptation: A canadian perspective. A Report of the Government of Canada's Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program. http://www.espp.msu.edu/climatechange/canadaadaptation.pdf.

11:  NAHRIM, 2006. Final Report: Study of the Impact of Climate Change on the Hydrologic Regime and Water Resources of Peninsular Malaysia. National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) and California Hydrologic Research Laboratory (CHRL), United States

12:  Ninth Malaysia Plan, 2006. Ninth Malaysia plan 2006-2010. The Economic Planning Unit. Prime Ministers Department, Putrajaya, Malaysia.

13:  Tiong, T.C., K.F. Pin, D. Rosien and A. Kasbani, 2007. Conference report on climate change preparedness: Towards policy changes. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia, 11 September 2007, Nikko Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

14:  WHO, 2003. Methods of Assessing Human Health Vulnerability and Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change. Series No. 1: Health and Global Environmental Change, WHO Regional Office for Europe Publication, Denmark

15:  Begum, R.A., J.J. Pereira, A.H. Jaafar and A.Q. Al-Amin, 2009. An empirical assessment of ecological footprint calculations for Malaysia. Resour. Conserv. Recycl., 53: 582-587.
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16:  IPCC., 2007. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK., ISBN-13: 9780521880107, Pages: 976

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