Saturday, 12 July 2008

Tropical rainforest environ least studied: Uggah

DAILY EXPRESS NEWS Malaysia 13th July

Tropical rainforest environ least studied: Uggah

Kota Kinabalu: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said the launching of OP3-Danum project demonstrates Malaysia and United Kingdom's readiness to embark on new activities to address environmental issues of global concern, including climate change and biodiversity loss, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

He said though the tropical rainforest was one of the most dynamic forest types on this planet, its environment has been the least studied and understood by scientists worldwide.

Unggah said that almost 70 per cent of the oxygen in the atmosphere comes from the tropical rainforest through the process of plant photosynthesis.

He said the delicate balance between emissions and absorption of carbon dioxide and oxygen and emission of other reactive trace gases determine the local, regional and global scale atmospheric composition.

"We are aware that forest biodiversity is at risk from land use change and climate change. Forests throughout the world are home to many species of rare plant and animal speciesÉthey also play a role in the carbon and energy balance of the earth, which in turn influences global climate," he said.

He hoped at the end of this project, Malaysian scientists and policymakers will be better appreciative of the importance of the inter linkages between forests and the climate of the planet.

Nevertheless, he said in so far as climate change is concerned, the major cause is use of fossil fuels and "we cannot address climate change merely by understanding the interaction between the forests and climate."

"We would be more effective if we could also deploy on a wider basis the use of alternative fuels and transfer technology and finance from developed to the developing countries to directly address climate change," he said at the soft launching of OP3-Danum project, yesterday.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Boyd McCleary, meanwhile, said the RM16 million funding from the British Government through NERC to the OP3-Danum project was the largest single foreign donor contribution to a fundamental research project in Malaysia to date.

He was also happy that the University of Lancester will be leading the UK consortium of research institutions in the said project, while the Malaysian Meteorological Department will be the main local counterpart working with them.

He said the British Government commissions a wide range of work to support the development of the policy in response to man-made climate change, an area of crucial concern at national, regional and global levels.
Citing examples, he said their government's expenditure on climate change research is currently some £140 million (or RM900 million) per year and most of this is provided through the research councils such as the NERC.

He said their lead department for climate change matters is the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra). Defra's climate change research programme aims to inform government climate change policy development and implementation.

"Specifically it analyses the risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and our means of adaptation and mitigation. The programme includes a range of climate monitoring and other observational studies, which also provide data for predicting future changes," he said.

Over the last five years, McCleary said Defra's total expenditure on climate change had more than doubled to £31 million (RM200 million) for 2007/2008.

He said integral to this budget was the funding of the Integrated Climate Programme (ICP) at the Meteorological Office Hadley Centre (MOHC).
The MOHC provides world-leading climate science research and modelling.
Pleased to note the Hadley Centre had already established a good working relationship with the Malaysian Meteorological Department, he said the UK played a significant role in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"We fully support the work of the IPCC and regard its assessment as providing the most authoritative view of climate change," he said.
McCleary said the British Government also funded the seminal Stern Review on the economic impact of Climate Change, which has played such a significant role in changing the nature of the international debate, by showing that the cost of tackling climate is much less than the cost of doing nothing.