Is striking oil part of Penang’s green agenda?

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Pertubuhan Jaringan Ekologi dan Iklim (Jedi) is deeply concerned by the Penang state government’s recent announcement expressing its intention to explore oil and gas extraction as a potential revenue stream.

Jedi finds itself perplexed at Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s statement, which seems incongruent with Penang’s proud history of leading in various green initiatives and winning multiple environmental recognition awards.

At a time when the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty has gained momentum, with a hundred cities endorsing it at COP28 a few days ago and when subnational governments worldwide are rallying for a #FossilFuelTreaty which aims to transition away from oil, gas and coal, it is disheartening to see Penang potentially taking a step backward by embracing oil and gas into its economy.

We remind Chow of the Penang Green Agenda’s vision to be the greenest state in Malaysia, driven by a green economy by 2030. How can Penang achieve its vision of a green economy and a low-carbon state dedicated to fighting climate change, while considering the extraction of revenue through oil and gas resources?

Such a move contradicts the principles for which Penang stands and the aspirations for which its people voted—a “Cleaner, Greener Penang”.

Therefore, we strongly urge the Penang state government to reaffirm its commitment to the Penang Green Agenda and its 2030 goals, which are centred around sustainable and green development. It is imperative not to let short-term gains overshadow our long-term climate responsibility.

Rather than succumbing to the allure of quick financial gains through oil and gas extraction, Penang should focus on embracing renewable energy sources.

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There are already plans by Penang Development Corporation (PDC) to grow the renewables sector, especially solar energy, to become Penang’s core business.

Forward-thinking nations and cities across the globe are moving towards cleaner alternatives, and Penang should be at the forefront of this positive change.

We call upon the Chow’s leadership to reconsider this decision and champion the cause of a green legacy. Let Penang be a beacon, the first state in Malaysia to reject oil and gas if found, and instead let us lead the nation in prioritising renewable energy.

May Chow’s last term be remembered for steering Penang towards a sustainable and green future, rather than burdening it with the legacy of making Penang’s economy directly reliant on the expansion of fossil fuel production.

We must not make light of the climate crisis we are facing today. Instead, we must truly understand that the increased production and use of fossil fuels is not compatible with a safe and liveable future. – Jedi

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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