Masagos urges firms to check on emissions

Shelina Ajit Assomull Straits Times 23 Nov 17;

Singtel is the first company in Asia, aside from Japan, to have its carbon reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative - an organisation specialising in advising companies on how much they should be decreasing carbon emissions.

"I applaud Singtel for taking the lead in corporate responsibility and ask that more companies, big and small, undertake efforts to study and publish their carbon footprint," said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at his opening plenary address at the second day of the Responsible Business Forum yesterday.

Singtel have set an ambitious target, as Mr Masagos put it, due to a potential increase in energy consumption as they expand their network. Singtel has also endorsed the new reporting recommendations made by the international Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures on climate-change risk.

Mr Masagos encouraged more companies to work towards strength in the face of climate change.

He said: "We have seen examples where such decisions help businesses stay sustainable and profitable as the world transits to a low-carbon economy."

Mr Masagos also highlighted Singapore's agreement, under the Paris Agreement, to lower carbon emission intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels despite the fact that Singapore contributes a mere 0.11 per cent of global emissions.

Singapore's 2019 plans to introduce a price signal for companies to reduce emissions - a carbon tax - were highlighted, for the promise they bring in encouraging companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The revenue collected from the carbon tax will go into supporting initiatives to improve industry energy efficiency," Mr Masagos said.

Singapore's sunny weather comes in handy for its potential to harness solar energy. Of all the renewable energy sources, Mr Masagos highlighted, solar power brings Singapore the most promise.

He said that to do this, "research centres, such as the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, and the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, are collaborating with industry".

Singapore has had interaction with international partners and 112,000 officials visiting from developing countries to focus on sustainable development and other key areas.

MrMasagos closed the speech with his call to governments, the United Nations, businesses and the public for unity in working towards a sustainable future.

The Responsible Business Forum in Singapore was a start in making this happen.

He said: "I encourage all of you to take the opportunity at this forum to think about how your initiatives can help to accelerate action on sustainable development."

Shelina Ajit Assomull

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Malaysia: Forestry dept to join fight against Sabah’s poachers

The Star 23 Nov 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Forestry Department will be roped in to help stem the killing of the state’s endangered wildlife.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said his ministry was looking at empowering the department to enforce the Sabah Wildlife Protection Enactment.

“We are looking at both the enforcement and prosecution aspects to assist the Wildlife Department,” he said.

He said Sabah chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan was receptive to the idea.

“The Forestry Department has more men on the ground and its rangers are in forest reserves that are wildlife habitats,” he said.

Masidi acknowledged that the Wildlife Department did not have enough staff members to keep track of the fauna in Sabah’s vast interior.

He said it was also challenging to find witnesses who could help the department track down and prosecute poachers.

“This is even when we offer monetary rewards,” he said, adding that poachers quickly slipped away after killing an animal.

Sabah’s unique and endangered Bornean pygmy elephants, numbering some 2,000, are among the favourite targets of poachers.

Last week, the carcass of a bull elephant riddled with bullet wounds was found in a plantation in Tawau district on the east coast.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said it was likely that the elephant was shot at another location but managed to flee before succumbing to its wounds.

Plantation workers discovered the dead elephant with its tusks intact and informed their managers.

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Malaysia: More than a dozen nabbed for illegal logging, other offences in Kelantan forests

MOHD SHAFUAN KHAIRI New Straits Times 22 Nov 17;

MACHANG: More than a dozen people were arrested for illegal logging and other offences committed in Kelantan forests during a special joint operation which ended on Wednesday.

Codenamed ‘Ops Bersepadu’, the operation was led by the Forestry Department and included the participation of the police, Immigration, state Road Transport and state Environment Departments.

Involving 110 officers, the operation also saw the seizure of timber cutting and processing machinery worth thousands of ringgit.

Operation chief Nor Azirim Ahmad said the team recorded 16 offences during the operation, which started on Nov 14.

He said the team covered forest areas in the districts of Jeli, Tanah Merah, Gua Musang and Rantau Panjang.

"The individuals were arrested but later released after their statements were recorded," he told reporters after closing the operation at Bukit Bakar here.

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Malaysia thanks Indonesia for commitment to preserving haze-free skies

ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 22 Nov 17;

KUCHING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today praised the Indonesian government for its commitment to tackling open-burning activities, which in previous years had triggered the transboundary haze.

The prime minister recorded the appreciation on behalf of the Malaysian government at a joint press conference held after the 12th Annual Consultation Malaysia and Indonesia today.

“It has been almost two years since Malaysia was last enveloped by (transboundary) haze.

“This reflects the seriousness of the Indonesian government in putting an end to any (open-burning) activities, which could trigger haze.

“Hence, I would like to record my appreciation to the Indonesian president (Joko Widodo) and also the Indonesian government for their commitment to ensure the region is free from any haze,” said Najib to applause from the delegates comprising ministers from the Malaysian and Indonesian government.

The commitment demonstrated by the Indonesian government in resolving the issues, said Najib, has brought relief to the people in Malaysia including those in Sarawak.

Najib later announced that both Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to enhance cooperation in forest conservation as well as efforts to save near-extinct wildlife including the Sumatran rhino and Orang Utans.

“This is in line with the Heart of Borneo initiative involving Indonesia, Malaysia and also Brunei. This is also a reflection of our seriousness towards pushing for sustainable development, which not only focuses on spurring the economy but also conservation of forests and wildlife,” said Najib.

Malaysia thanks Indonesia for tackling forest fires
Safrin La Batu The Jakarta Post 23 Nov 17;

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed his appreciation for Indonesia's efforts in tackling forest fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan and spare the neighboring country from air pollution.

Speaking during a joint press conference with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo before the 12th Malaysia-Indonesia annual consultative meeting in Kuching , Malaysia, Najib said his country had not experienced haze for two years.

“Thank you for the serious attention from Indonesia. The weather is now fresh, enjoyable,” Najib said as quoted in the Presidential Palace’s press statement on Wednesday.

Forest and land fires are perennial problems in Indonesia, with the latest fires in 2015 resulting in a choking haze blanketing numerous areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan, as well as Singapore and parts of Malaysia, costing the economy Rp 221 trillion, equal to about 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

In October, the National Disaster Management Agency claimed that Indonesia had improved its capacity to deal with land and forest fires following the 2015 disaster. Activists, however, have warned officials in Jakarta against complacency, saying that more needs to be done to address forest fires. (saf/ahw)

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EU ban on bird imports sees 'massive' cuts in global trade

Matt McGrath BBC 23 Nov 17;

A new study says that an EU ban on the trade in wild birds has helped reduce the global business by 90%.

Prior to the 2005 regulation that limited the market, European countries were the foremost importers of birds, mainly from West Africa.

These imported creatures often escaped and posed threats to local populations and ecosystems.

Latin America has now become the main bird source, and is now responsible for 50% of the much smaller global market.

Flu sparks ban

It was in response to concerns about the spread of avian influenza that the EU imposed a temporary ban on wild bird imports in October 2005. This was made permanent two years later.

Prior to the ban, the global trade saw around 1.3 million birds bought and sold every year, according to the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The EU was the world's biggest importer of birds at the time with Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain accounting for two thirds of all wild birds sold on the global market.

About 70% of them came from West Africa, mainly from Guinea, Mali and Senegal.

"There is some redirection of trade to other areas and some may have gone underground, but the global drop is so massive that those cannot account for it on their own," author Dr Diederik Strubbe, from the University of Copenhagen, told BBC News.

"By implementing this ban the trade has effectively eliminated a lot of demand from the market and the main picture that emerges is that the trade has largely collapsed."

Latin America has replaced Africa as the main source according to this study, supplying demand in Mexico and the United States. However the overall number of birds being traded has reduced to around 130,000 every year.
What's also changed is the type of birds being bought and sold.

Songbirds from Africa once dominated the market - now parrots are in the ascendant.

"The songbirds like canaries are only a fraction of what they were before, only 20% of the former level," said Dr Strubbe.

"The other popular birds are parakeets they have also declined a bit, not to the extent of the songbirds. Despite the ban they have remained rather popular on the global market and they have found new destinations."

Other researchers in the field welcomed the new study.

"What was really elegant about this paper was that they brought a number of datasets together and they showed us that to some extent the supply chains reconfigure but to some extent they don't. So that this policy had a beneficial impact," said Dr Paul Jepson from the University of Oxford, who wasn't involved in the research.

"For me, it's one of the big issues in wildlife trade governance, understanding the dynamics of supply chains."

The wild bird trade has long caused problems both in the country of origin and the importing nation.

Europe has seen large numbers of invasive parrots causing damage to local ecosystems, out competing local birds and damaging crops. More than 100 cities across the continent have seen parakeets establish.

So serious is the issue that a research group called Parrotnet was funded to assess the scale of the problem. In the UK, ring-necked parrots, descended from pets and aviary birds which have escaped or were deliberately released, have become so plentiful that they pose a threat to vineyards and fruit farms.

There are also impacts on the countries where the birds are captured with a loss of biodiversity and a loss of income for those involved in the trade.

The authors say that over time, the EU ban will likely end the ongoing problem of invasive birds.

"Among invasive species, birds are quite prevalent but our results suggest that the emergence of these, such as the parakeets living in Europe, are largely a phenomenon of the past," said Dr Strubbe.

"We do expect that invasions of new bird species will be become much rarer than before."

The research has been published in the journal Science Advances.

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