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Climate and Energy Transition Reporting in Peninsular Malaysia’s Mainstream News Media

A report by Lensa Iklim programme, and initiative by Klima Action Malaysia - KAMY
Supported by Europe
an Climate Foundation

Climate
and Media

According to the IPCC, “global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming”. This will result in loss of biodiversity, heat stress, drought, famine, floods and more climate impacts.

 

Has the news media in Peninsular Malaysia conveyed this information to its readers?

 

We hope this report is used as a source and point of reference for media houses, policymakers and researchers to better understand the climate reporting landscape in Malaysia.

“ Climate stories are criminally               underreported in Malaysia ”

The state
of media houses
in
Peninsula Malaysia

What media we’re looking at - The Star, NST, MalaysiaKini, The Vibes, The Edge, Macaranga, Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siew Pau …

Climate reporting has focused on events rather than examining root causes, which tells how climate issues are often underreported.

“As mentioned by a column published by The Vibes, climate change issues will be reported when a disaster strikes, like the December 2021 floods, and will lose its momentum after a while with no substantial solution, follow-up, or preventative measures in place.”

But the question is, why are they underreported despite Malaysia being a climate vulnerable nation?

None have climate or environment desks, most journalists have general beats.

Lack of expertise and manpower in news rooms, leading to journalists not being able to explore deeper stories.

In depth stories are carried by specialist media such as Maracanga, which focuses on stories based on the grants received (due to lack of funds).

Lack of data and
diverse experts ….

“The Star columnist, Dr Milton Lum, found a lack of information available from the government on the effects on climate change in Malaysia. Instead, he used data from NGOs such as the UN, World Bank, Global Forest Watch, and Asian Development Bank, to show how climate change has impacted Malaysia in the last few decades.”

In Climate and Energy Transition Reporting in Peninsular Malaysia’s Mainstream News Media, we examine the portrayal of key topics in Malaysia's climate and energy transition journey.

        A LOOK
AT THE KEY TOPICS ;

Energy Transition in Malaysia

Approximately 80% of greenhouse gases come from the energy sector, which is currently dominated by coal and gas.

 

Peninsula Malaysia is still highly reliant on coal, which we import mainly from Indonesia and Australia. However, due to the high cost of imports (due to Russian invasion of Ukraine) and coal’s bad reputation, there has been an emerging trend on shifting away from coal in the media. Yet, there were still some inconsistent messaging on coal, especially on the halting of usage and construction of coal fired plants.

 

The National Energy Policy 2022-2040 did not set clear cut-off targets for coal, but gas definitely got a boost in the policy. 

 

Net zero targets have also been increasingly pledged by Malaysian corporations and, therefore, widely reported by the media almost without critique. This creates space for conversations on net zero greenwashing and the future of energy transition in Malaysia.

Call to Action - Suggestions from the Newsroom and More

Recommendations

Specialised climate desks in media houses. These desks should focus on comprehensive climate reporting, exploring the root cause of climate issues. 

Supporting community journalism and collaborative journalism. 

Dedicated resources for journalists to pursue knowledge, technical expertise and the network necessary to report climate stories, either through internal or external funding.

 

Implementation of better data transparency measures by making publicly available accurate climate impact data such as project EIAs, databases and agreements. Developing a Freedom to Information Act as it fosters good governance.

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