Since entering the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the world has continued to grow and innovate. Evidence from many studies throughout the years have shown that this progress has come at an environmental cost. Issues such as climate change have seen more extreme weather events taking place in recent times. The leading contributor to climate change has been the increase in our carbon footprint.
So, what is a carbon footprint?
A Carbon footprint in essence is the total amount of greenhouse gas emission (GHG), which is typically calculated in tonnes, that a person, organization, event or product has produced. The carbon footprint is a method to measure the environmental impact that one’s lifestyle choices has.
What is an example of my carbon footprint?
For example, an individual that drives to work every day might have a bigger carbon footprint than an individual that relies on public transport as driving a personal vehicle emits more greenhouse gas.
As we continue to strive further into the 21st century, our carbon footprint is predicted to grow as well. However, if our carbon footprint stays on the current trajectory, the impact on the environment will only worsen. Climate change already has a significant impact on our cities and our way of life. We need to act now and make the appropriate adjustments before the effects of climate change become irreversible.
Evidence has shown that cities around the world are responsible for up to 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. To curb the negative impacts of rapid urbanisation, stakeholders at all level of society need to take responsibility in managing their carbon footprint.
Going low carbon now, as many cities have started, will set us on a path towards a more sustainable and prosperous future. Having observed and realised the adverse impact of a nation’s negative carbon footprint has, the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre (MGTC) under the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) has introduced a new initiative to help shift our cities towards a low carbon future.
What is Global Warming?
Understanding the cause to global warming and climate change are key towards addressing its impacts. Global warming takes place when carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases and air pollutants collect in the atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun’s rays inside the atmosphere causing Earth’s average temperature to rise. The cause of current climate change has been large attributed to human activity. CO2produced by human activities is the largest contributor to global warming. In 2020, it was estimated that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere had risen to 48% above its pre-industrial level (before 1750).
The Low Carbon Cities (LCC) Initiative
Under the LCC Initiative, the framework details 3 key cornerstones towards creating a Low Carbon City:
- Cleaner Cities
By reducing pollution emitted from fossil fuel vehicles, the air quality of the city would be greatly improved. On top of this, proper waste management would reduce the burden of landfill and contribute towards a cleaner environment.
- Cooler Cities
A more breathable city starts with increasing the greenery and tree covers around the city. A greener city complimented with green buildings and green homes would reduce the urban heat island effect.
- Healthier Cities
In reducing pollution and better green city planning, the health of the residents of the city would be greatly improved due to the overall cleaner surrounding environment.
Why should we shift to a Low Carbon Future?
Creating green jobs
The shift to a Low Carbon Economy would bolster the Local Green Economy and in turn create Green Jobs.
With the shift in global sentiment towards sustainability, Low Carbon Cities would be able to attract both Foreign and Domestic Direct Investments.
Improve liveability and Quality of Life
Implementing greener technology would also improve the Quality of Life of urban inhabitants and improve the city’s Liveability Standards.
More resilient to climate change
Undertaking low carbon measures will enable cities to be more resilient in the face of further climate change.
How can we move towards a Low Carbon Future?
By adapting the cities’ pre-existing infrastructure, there are 5 key areas in which shifts can quickly be made to realise a Low Carbon future:
By reducing energy wastage, maximising efficiency, and generating electricity from renewable sources
By maximising the use of public transport and the adoption of electric vehicles
By reducing the amount waste that is sent to landfills
By reducing water wastage and maximising water efficiency
By protecting existing greenery and planting more trees
Getting Started with the Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF)
LCCF is a national framework to guide the development of low carbon cities and to support holistic sustainable development in Malaysia. Under the LCCF there are 3 key objectives that have been set out:
Objective I : Measure & quantify the actual carbon emissions.
Objective II : Guide Local Authorities (PBTs) in transforming their cities into LCC.
Objective III : Create awareness and promote LCC in Malaysia.
Figure 1: Adapted from https://www.lccf.my/cities/
 UN Habitat: Climate Change https://unhabitat.org/topic/climate-change