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Action is the best solution

   

Kuala Lumpur, 6 March 2007

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Speech by Ruth Yeoh at the launch of Climate Change Week

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On behalf of Dr. Kenny and myself, I would like to thank you all for coming to celebrate with us our book launch of “Cut Carbon, Grow Profits”. It is our honour to have you here with us tonight to share with us our pride and joy in this project - a work which has involved many experts, executives, academics and authors from all over the world – on a topic which is very much close to our hearts. Thank you for joining us in celebrating the launch of Climate Change Week.

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When my team and I first embarked on orchestrating Climate Change Week, I had faith in the Lord that He would bless this very project and sure enough, He has in terms of its timing and popularity. It is exceptionally timely that our book was published after the second anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol and after the movie we will be watching tonight won two Oscars. I would therefore like to first thank God for guiding us constantly in this journey called life, and I pray that we will become great stewards of His wealth.

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I thank YTL for sponsoring this special premiere screening of the Academy award-winning movie “An Inconvenient Truth” – and for their support for our book and Climate Change Week.

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I would like to especially thank the following people:

  • Yang Berhormat Dato’ Seri Azmi Khalid, Minister of Natural Resources and The Environment, for his stewardship, and his Ministry’s ongoing work and support in the field of climate change;
  • Tan Sri Dr. Francis Yeoh, Managing Director of YTL Corporation, for his vision, leadership and intellectual contributions which are reflected within this book and at YTL;
  • Dr. Kenny Tang, my brilliant co-editor and mentor, who authored this book with me and did a fantastic job in delivering the final masterpiece;
  • My colleagues and working team who have tirelessly contributed their efforts in making Climate Change Week possible;
  • And last but not least, family, friends and supporters, for their endless faith in us and our actions.

This book is dedicated to all of you.

?

We are now all in the midst of witnessing a growing phenomenon. Movies are being made in Hollywood depicting the horrors of climate change, as we will see in the movie showcased today. Politicians like Al Gore and Bill Clinton are jumping on the global warming bandwagon by using the media to leverage public awareness of the ever-growing problem. We will see more and more celebrities clambering to promote climate change awareness, churning documentaries and TV programmes which seek to enlighten the public on global warming issues.

?

Still, one may ponder, why the urgency and all the press? I recall reading an article in which a writer aptly quips, “Global warming is a deadly threat precisely because it fails to trip the brain’s alarm, leaving us soundly asleep in a burning bed.”[1] This remark may appear outdated with all the hype that’s been multiplying lately - but there’s a widespread debate that still rages on – a debate between scientists, politicians, societies and industries, mostly due to uncertainty towards the severity, economic implications and consequences of global warming – which is delaying action to combat it.

?

The Stern Review, written by former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern has, however, silenced much of the debate and given clarity to the economics in the often murky area of climate change. Released in October 2006, it is the most comprehensive study of the economics of climate change yet, chronicling the risks of uncontrolled climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions.


Much of the focus of the report is on international agreements and carbon-trading schemes - by 2010, the global carbon market could be worth US$70 billion. The study further highlights that acting now to cut carbon would cost 1% of global GDP per year; and by doing nothing, the costs at the time would be a minimum of 5% and as high as 20% of GDP a year.[2] The point is that there is now a need to solve climate whatever it costs through a low carbon global economy, simply because the cost of not securing it will be far greater.

 

Companies and institutions are now investing millions in tackling climate change through the use of clean energy – recent calculations suggest that global expenditure on curbing the effects of climate change could be worth about one thousand billion US dollars within five years of action being agreed.[3]

 

What is clear is that we can no longer extenuate ourselves from the risks that climate change brings by ignoring the disasters it wreaks - from ravaging hurricanes, melting ice sheets, pollution, and natural species which are fast becoming extinct, to looming problems concerning human warfare. The evidence is mounting.

 

Though global warming has become launched into our mainstream consciousness, there are still problems businesses and societies need to address and tackle head-on. This is why we came up with our “Cut Carbon, Grow Profits” book: for the purposes of educating individuals through investigating case studies and what leading companies are doing to mitigate climate change risk. It is a guide on sustainability issues using a simple how-to-do-it approach.

 

We feel action towards sustainability and adaptation will be the best solution, and the corporate world will be poised to take on this challenge. In this century and the next, a business-as-usual approach will clearly be irresponsible. Zooming in on Asian companies, the trek towards sustainability will be challenging, but certainly not impossible. As George Soros wisely remarks, the situation is not all hopeless because we are likely to be more adaptable then we think, but the danger is real and there is no time to waste.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your wake up call.

 

Thank you for your presence today and God Bless you all.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Daniel Gilbert, “If only gay sex caused global warming”, Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2006.

[2] Greg Hurst, “Cut carbon emissions now or face economic calamity later”, The Times, UK, October 30, 2006.

[3] Chris Giles, “Global push to cut greenhouse emissions”, Financial Times, October 26, 2006.


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