BERNAMA › OPINION
WHERE ARE THE POLICIES ON SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION?: A survey in the UK revealed that just 7 per cent of the British public believes claims made by companies that they are taking tough action to reduce carbon emissions. This survey was carried out by the government agency charged with accelerating the UK's move to a low-carbon economy. The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) conducted a survey on sustainable consumption pattern in Malaysia and one of the questions asked was their perception of eco-labels or environmental labels.
About 38 per cent of the respondents shared that they do not trust the labelling and 31 per cent mentioned that eco-friendly products are difficult to find and another 31 per cent mentioned that they are normally more expensive than the non eco-friendly counterpart. This is just of eco-labels.
One of the eco-labels to promote sustainable energy consumption is the energy rating scheme promoted by the Energy Commission. The same survey revealed that only 5.7 per cent of the respondents have seen or know what it is. The ministry of Green Technology, is tasked with the promotion of green technology especially in energy production and the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment manages natural resource, environmental conservation and land use survey and mapping.
So which government agency promotes or is able to develop policies for sustainable consumption and production. SCP or sustainable consumption and production are said to be two sides of a coin. They are both crucial to sustainable development and key to control emissions. It seems there is a gaping hole in the sustainable development agenda as far as sustainable consumption is concerned.
Sustainable production to a certain extent needs technology, particularly green technology to assist in addressing environmental aspect and impact of production. Green Technology seems to be the realm of the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water. Consumption on the other hand is an issue of the masses, the consumers. Typically the agency to be tasked with the responsibility to promote sustainable consumption is the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism or KPDNKK.
Till to date there has not been policies on sustainable consumption. Without policies regulations to promote sustainable consumption practices such as those governing eco-labels and claims are unduly delayed. The one day in a week "No Plastic Day" albeit a start need to be a Malaysian culture and thus practiced 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Some of the hypermarkets are already carrying imported products namely from Japan and Korea which carry carbon footprint labelling.
The Department of Standards Malaysia has developed various eco-labelling standards, guidance and requirements but laments the lack of laboratories and perhaps even technical capacities to test and verify or endorse eco-labelling much less if there is no demand for eco-friendly products. Thus, we come back to the role of KPDNKK - What is the strategy of this Ministry to promote sustainable consumption and address concerns with misleading claims on alleged eco-friendly products? How much has been done to promote sustainable consumption (SC)? What is the Ministry's plan under 10th Malaysia Plan and its long term plan? What is the Ministry's strategy for SC for the upcoming budget planning?
We need to remind here that among the eight universal consumer rights are the right to healthy and safe environment and the right to information. To promote SC, consumers need to be assured that environmental labelling are trustworthy and will assist them in making sustainable lifestyle choices that will support two of the pillars of a high income nation, i.e sustainability and inclusivity.
Ratna Devi Nadarajan, Chief Executive Officer Malaysian Association of Standards UsersFrom: RATNA DEVI NADARAJAN
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