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Malaysia

Come to this Malaysian province to see an alternative path on energy

Daniel Kammen's picture

 

   Photo courtesy Willem V.
   Strien/Flickr under Creative
   Commons License

It is all too easy to see environmental protection and economic development simply as competing philosophies, and nothing more. A range of studies attest to the fact that this is a false dichotomy. In my earlier blog, I described the alternative vision that became a reality in a small Nicaraguan coastal community that chose to invest in a diverse set of clean energy alternatives.  Even with cases like this one described in the literature, there remains in some circles a sense that these must be concocted.

 

The headlines often reinforce this simple dichotomy of environment versus economic growth, where the choice presented is “preserve a forest and forego the lumber”, “save a river and deny a community hydropower”, or “find the financing for more expensive solar power or accept ill-health and global warming from coal.” I have been convinced that another path or paths exist, ever since reading a remarkable paper on the `valuation’ of a tropical rain forest (Peters, Gentry and Mendelsohn, `Valuation of an Amazonian Rainforest', Nature). This short paper got me thinking about how we ignore the longer-term economic wins of sustainability for short-term profit.

 

I recently had the wonderful fortune to get involved in a case that reinforced the fact that options always exist, if we work together to find them.

 

Early in 2010, a consortium of citizens from Sabah, Malaysia came to my laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, convinced that unexplored options must exist to provide the energy needed for this Malaysian Province without placing a 300 MW coal fired power plant on the edge of the ‘coral triangle’ off the coast of North Borneo. This plant was planned at a site only 20 kilometers from the last remaining reserve for the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino of Borneo (of which there may be only 30 individuals or so remaining). This plan would have required the weekly import of coal from South Borneo (Kalimantan). Just a few years ago, the coal plant seemed inevitable.

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Philip Schellekens's picture

Compare South Korea and Malaysia in 1970 and compare them again in 2009. South Korea was a third poorer back then and is now three times richer. Even more remarkable has been South Korea’s ability to widely share the benefits of this spectacular feat across broad segments of society. South Korea’s strong focus on broad-based human capital development allowed the country to transform itself into a high-income economy, while at the same time reducing income inequality and improving social outcomes.

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Raj Nallari's picture

 

Global GDP growth and as well as GDP growth in each of the regions were lower in 2009 compared to 2007. More specifically, specifically, negative growth rates were observed during 2009 in developed countries & European Union, Central and SE Europe & CIS countries and to a lesser extent in LAC, while the growth rates for East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa were positive in 2009 but lower than in 2007.

 

Reflecting this, all regions experienced higher unemployment rates, with the highest being in the developed economies & EU, Central and SE Europe & CIS and LAC economies, which again all had negative GDP growth rates in 2009. The ILO estimates that the global crisis has led to 34 million more unemployed and the World Bank estimates that about 60 million people may have been pushed into poverty.

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Raj Nallari's picture

Development is about welfare enhancing transformation through economic, social, political, and technological progress. Transformation is predicated on per capita income growth but development is also about progress in reduction of poverty and inequality, individual capabilities, access to social services, and quality of life. Both growth and development are also predicated on distributive politics of how a society is able to deal with vested interests and social conflicts.

 

During past sixty years, growth spurts have occurred in most countries but generally outcomes have fallen short of expectations. Developed economies have averaged growth rates of 2.4 percent during 1990 and 2008 while developing economies have collectively increased their GDP by an average of 4.7 percent over the same period. For low and middle income countries, physical capital is the

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Tanya Gupta's picture

A free and independent media plays an important role in monitoring public servants and holding them accountable for their actions.  In this way they promote transparency and accountability within a country.  The role of media in good governance is widely acknowledged.  The Worldwide Govern


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