Integrating Low Carbon Society Blueprint into Existing Policy Framework

Since its inception in 2006, development in Iskandar Malaysia has been governed by various policies, plans and guidelines at the national, state and local levels. Specifically, IM has a statutory Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) that is provided for under the Iskandar Regional Development Authority Act, 2007 (Act 664) and a series of 24 blueprints covering various development aspects of the urban region (see Fig. 7.4, column 2); the blueprints gain statutory status by means of adoption by the Johor State Planning Committee (SPC) under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1976 (Act 172). The main function of the CDP and blueprints is to provide a development coordination framework by which all government entities within Iskandar Malaysia are to legally abide under Act 664.

At the same time, IM is also home to five local planning authorities (LPAs) that hold the traditional statutory role of planning and regulating development and use of land within their administrative areas under Act 172. The LPAs come under the Johor Bahru District and Kulai District Local Plan 2020, which is the statutory plan provided for under Act 172 for guiding and regulating land use and development in the Johor Bahru and Kulai Districts (which jointly cover most of Iskandar Malaysia) (Fig. 7.4, column 3). The Local Plan is required by law to take cognisance of and provide clear spatial articulation to higher-level development policies, including the Johor State Structure Plan 2020, the National Physical Plan-2 as well as other general development policies (Fig. 7.4, column 4). Most LPAs also enact their respective development policies and planning guidelines that have to be in line with the Local Plan. However, reducing energy and carbon emission intensity of rapid growth has to date not been an agenda of these plans and policies.

Fig. 7.4 Policy context of the LCSBP-IM2005 which serves as the critical link between global and national climate change initiatives and policies and local development planning policies and regulation mechanisms (Source: UTM-Low Carbon Asia Research Centre 2013a, p. 3–4)

Since the honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia made the pledge of voluntary reduction of the country's carbon emission intensity at COP 15 in 2009, a series of national-level climate change responses and low-carbon initiatives have emerged in the forms of policies, framework and guidelines (Fig. 7.4, column 1). However, these policies and guidelines have yet to find their way into the lower-level development policies, plans and guidelines that are more effective and detailed in guiding and regulating physical-spatial development but are hitherto largely 'carbon blind'.

Being a premier economic corridor in Malaysia, it is only appropriate that IM leads the way in contributing to honouring the country's pledge to reduce its carbon emission intensity by 40 % (based on 2005 emission levels) by 2020. It is in this light that the Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025 is formulated to provide the crucial policy link between the country's global and national climate change responses (Fig. 7.4, column 1) and Iskandar Malaysia's regionaland local-level development plans and policies. To that end, the Blueprint sets a GHG emission intensity reduction target of 50 % by 2025, based on the 2005 emission level. The target would be achieved through implementing 12 LCS actions set under three main themes: Green Economy, Green Community and Green Environment. The Blueprint also takes special cognisance of the recently launched Iskandar Malaysia Smart City Framework that sets out the general characteristics of IM as a smart city, which include elements of reducing carbon emission and emphasis on development of ICT infrastructure.

Once adopted by the SPC, the Blueprint shall provide a statutory policy framework for the CDP, which is currently under review, and serve as the 'umbrella blueprint' for the existing 24 IM blueprints which need to be progressively revised to incorporate relevant LCS policies and strategies. As required under Act 664, these would subsequently trickle down to the Johor Bahru District and Kulai District Local Plan 2020 and various LPA planning guidelines and take effect through the granting of planning permissions to future developments in IM (Fig. 7.4, pink box).

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