PORT KLANG: The captain of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship has cautioned Malaysia not to make the American mistake of electing a leader who does not believe in science as Environment Minister.
During an interview onboard the Rainbow Warrior, which has docked in Port Klang, Captain Pete Wilcox said the Environment Ministry must be entrusted with people who understand science and accept it.
“We say in my country that anybody with an eighth-grade education can understand that when you burn fossil fuel, you create carbon dioxide that traps heat in the earth and causes the planet to warm,” Wilcox said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve elected a President that does not have an eighth-grade education in science and he refuses to believe it,” he added in a thinly-veiled attack against President Donald Trump. (In the United States, eighth grade is usually the second or third year of junior high school for students aged 13 or 14.)
Trump has denied the science of climate change amidst protests, calling it a “con job” and a “myth”.
In 2017, Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Change Agreement and rolled back several Obama-era environmental policies protection aimed to curb climate change.
Wilcox said it was important for people working in the Environment Ministry to understand the science behind climate change in order to implement effective environmental policies.
The Rainbow Warrior, is one of three Greenpeace ships along with the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza, which has successfully helped end nuclear testing in the Pacific and closed down destructive fishing operations.
It will be in Port Klang until Thursday (June 6) to raise greater awareness on environmental protection and to engage with local partners to reduce plastic pollution.
Wilcox said the most pressing policy for Malaysia to consider is to replace coal power plants with green energy sources.
He said the abundance of sunlight here could be used as effective solar energy, and said he was surprised that Malaysia has not fully taken advantage of it.
According to Global Coal Plant Tracker, Malaysia has 21 operating coal power plants and four that are under construction.
In March 2017, The Malaysian Reserve reported that Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) was awarded the contract to develop a 1,000MW coal-fired power plant at its site in Manjung, Perak.
In January 2018, Former Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili had welcomed the proposal of 150-200 MW coal-fired power plant as long as it is not built on Sabah’s land.
He reportedly said that the current levels of Renewable Energy in Malaysia is at 21.67 per cent (7.271Mw).
The previous Barisan Nasional government had also proposed to develop a nuclear power programme to diversify from its energy supply system that is heavily reliant on coal and natural gas.
Wilcox also urged the new Environment Ministry to invest in the green economy as it can boost economic growth.
He lauded Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s target of a nationwide plastics ban within the year.
“I think it is an excellent idea, single-use plastic has got to stop,” he said.
“There are certain places where it make sense to use plastic and recycle but we cannot continue to use single-use plastics, it is like building a coal-fired power plant,” he added.