Price on carbon emissions

NO one likes taxes, with many seeing it generally as a burden. But putting a price on carbon emissions can encourage lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and this is going to help mitigate climate change.

No one likes flash floods and dry water taps either. Instead of playing the blame game, shouldn't we capitalise on embarking or supporting those who adopt technology, innovation and design to build smart sustainable cities?

In Malaysia, regulators such as Bursa Malaysia have emphasised the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance among listed companies.

It was learnt that only 74 out of 972 public-listed companies (PLCs) have signed up to be part of the Public-Listed Company Transformation (PLCT) Programme spearheaded by Bursa Malaysia since its launch on March 2.

That is not even eight per cent of the PLCs but then again, every journey begins with the first step.

The PLCT is not mandatory but PLCs can improve their business performance as well as the overall capital market if they were to join it.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz launched the PLCT with the release of the first digital guidebook.

The adoption of best practices and information sharing programmes feature five digital books, and the programme will end in 2025.

Guidebook 2, launched on June 10, emphasised on the need for PLCs to develop a well-defined ESG approach, namely in adopting better governance and having a more effective environmental and social performance through the implementation of ESG practices across key functions.

The launch saw two panellists — CIMB group chief people officer and group chief sustainability officer Gurdip Singh Sidhu and Sunway Group Bhd executive director (chairman's office) Ong Pang Yen — sharing their organisations' ESG aspirations and journey.

Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift was the moderator.

Besides incorporating urban farming and rainwater harvesting, Sunway had invested in building lakes that serve as catchment areas that can provide between 230 million and two billion litres of water per year, depending on the amount of rainfall.

The lakes play a key role in the township's drainage system as runoff from drains supports stormwater management and prevents flash floods.

Rainwater harvesting tanks installed at Sunway properties reportedly can collect 16,718,000 litres of water per year, and growing your own vegetables not only ensure healthier meals and recreational activities, it is also cost-saving and eco-friendly.

At the event, Ong cited the Sunway City Kuala Lumpur — built on a tin mining wasteland turned "wonderland" — as a project that had prioritised water security to ensure that business operators and residents could enjoy a steady supply of clean water, which could safeguard against water cuts as well as for cleaning and landscaping purposes.

After all, water disruption not only causes inconvenience but also impedes business operations.

Incorporating such sustainable development goals, although may cost more in the short-term, is eventually going to create more value for business revenue and the planet in the long-term. Just like any other investment, investing in ESG also embraces delaying gratification to reap the rewards in the future.

Currently, Sunway is only working on reducing carbon emissions. In the future, it is looking at the feasibility of capturing and storing carbon.

As for the banking industry, Gurdip said PLCs with ESG compliance stood to reap benefits such as rebates, and it might even expedite the approval process for credit.

A company that meets ESG compliance stands a better chance to future-proof its business and enhance its credibility and reputation, prompting others, especially foreign firms, to want to collaborate or venture into a joint partnership.

A company without an ESG strategy will ultimately affect its access to public and private capital.

Countries that have ventured into some form of national carbon pricing include Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and Ukraine.

Carbon tax is still being studied globally — it is a complicated process — and it will affect the lower-income group and small and medium enterprises more than the higher-income households and multinational corporations.

If PLCs are considering whether to hop onto the bandwagon, at least start with the thought: "It is the right thing to do."

The writer was a journalist with the New Straits Times before joining a Fortune Global 500 real estate company. This article is a collaboration between the New Straits Times and Tradeview, the author of 'Once Upon A Time In Bursa'.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories