KOTA KINABALU, June 28 — Sabah is in the process of signing on to a two million hectare carbon credit conservation programme that had previously attracted controversy.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said that the state entered into a Nature Conservation Agreement in hopes of garnering new forms of revenue and bolstering the economy.

“Recently, Sabah took a momentous step by entering into a Nature Conservation Agreement. We have committed 2 million hectares of our rainforest to a 100-year carbon credit conservation project.

“This initiative is expected to become a prominent CO2 sink, reinforcing our proactive stance on climate restoration,” he said in a statement here today.

Kitingan said that he had hopes of Sabah playing a vital role in the nation’s carbon capture and storage strategies, and suggested to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the Carbon Exchange should be anchored in Sabah, which he said was well-received.

“We are optimistic that Sabah's trailblazing efforts will secure broader acknowledgment and support,” he said.

He said that the revenue from the carbon credit initiative would bolster Sabah's annual development grant from the federal government, significantly aiding the state's infrastructural enhancement and poverty eradication campaigns.

“As the head of the State Cabinet Committee on NCA Implementation, I am wholly dedicated to this objective. Despite the Stock Exchange Commission's modest success in attracting credible carbon credit traders and purchasers, I am convinced our efforts will be influential,” he said.

Kitingan said that the Prime Minister's discourse at Energy Asia 2023, emphasising the commercial potential of carbon capture, fostering a low-carbon economy, and promoting sustainable socio-economic development, harmoniously aligns with Sabah's aspirations and objectives.

“We anticipate closer collaboration with our neighbours and other stakeholders to reach our shared sustainability objectives,” he said.

He also said that the carbon credit conservation project, would substantially aid in attaining the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to 2005.

Kitingan did not make any direct reference to the controversial NCA deal signed with Singapore based company Hoch Standard in October of 2021 for the sale of carbon credit from two mil hectares of state forest.

The deal then garnered international attention among the carbon community and put the NCA under scrutiny.

Following the controversy, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had said that the deal was put on hold and subjected to further study, but later on Sabah Foundation was signed onto the deal as a local partner.