Govt agencies, industries to work on achieving Singapore’s emission targets

LAURA PHILOMIN Today Online 1 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE – If an agreement is reached at the ongoing climate summit in Paris, agencies here will start the ball rolling by working with industries in various sectors to implement measures towards achieving Singapore’s carbon emission reduction targets, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli today (Dec 1).

Mr Masagos who, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, will be leading the Singapore delegation to 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP) summit, added that he was hopeful that the participating nations could reach a universal agreement. However, he acknowledged there would still be some “tough negotiations” in the days ahead.

“All of us have put out some commitments – what we call the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) – to help limit global temperatures rise by two degrees. This is not enough. They are looking at two and a half and better. I think two degrees is still much better than not doing anything at all,” said Mr Masagos, who spoke ahead of a visit to Singapore’s first metal recovery facility, which is located near Tuas Marine Transfer Station today (Dec 1).

“For Singapore, we will be looking at reducing our Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent by 2030, based on our 2005 levels. This is a very huge commitment … (and) it requires the whole of government as well as the economy to realign, to look at ways to bring down our business-as-usual emissions.”

For industries, Mr Masagos noted that the challenge would be in balancing an economy that can still support people’s livelihood while reducing carbon emissions.

“Most of (the companies) come from international organisations all over the world, so they already have good energy conservation practices in their processes. So what we want to do is ensure what they’re practising overseas start to come to Singapore.”

Beyond regulating industries, Mr Masagos said achieving Singapore’s target would require Singaporeans to play their part by relooking their energy consumption habits like driving cars and at the same time, recycle more.

When asked by TODAY if Singapore will still commit to the 36 per cent target if there is no climate deal in Paris for the post-2020 period, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said the INDCs would technically not be translated into obligations without such an agreement, and Singapore would review its options at that point.

Pointing out that this year’s protracted haze episode had released about one gigatonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Mr Masagos said the amount is equivalent to almost 20 per cent of the global emission reduction targets nations are trying to commit to in 2030.

“So, if the world is trying to reduce the emission but we do not do something about this burning of our forest, which also emits a huge amount of carbon dioxide, it is almost counter-productive,” he said.

When asked about updates on Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, Mr Masagos said the companies linked to the haze have been put on notice, but the “biggest impediment” in pursuing the issue is the lack of any official concession maps.

The Act allows Singapore to impose steep fines on local or foreign companies found to contribute to smoke pollution in the Republic.

Mr Masagos said he had requested a meeting with Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar “in France or anywhere else, even in Indonesia” to discuss further how the two countries can work together, particularly to bring errant companies to task.

At the same time, the Singapore Government is looking at how it can move forward in its cooperation with the Jambi province in Indonesia, he added.

In response to TODAY’s query, the MEWR said Indonesia indicated “its readiness to restart discussions regarding the Jambi MOU (memorandum of understanding) renewal” this month.

The previous MOU, signed in 2007, focused on training for fire-prevention and suppression capabilities as well as capacity-building for alternative livelihoods.

The latest MOU is looking to broaden the scope of cooperation to include more activities that would lead to more effective prevention, detection and mitigation of land and forest fires, added the ministry.

S'pore's 2030 goal aggressive and ambitious: Masagos
Andrea Soh, Business Times AsiaOne 2 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE'S commitment for the climate change talks - to reduce carbon emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 - are "very aggressive, very ambitious", said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli.

The good news is that most of Singapore's emissions are produced by a small number of players, he said, adding that the government will step up regulation to ensure that their emissions are in line with Singapore's 2030 commitment.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of Singapore's first metal-recovery facility on Tuesday, he said: "For Singapore, it is a commitment from the whole of government as well as our industries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

This will be done by adopting mitigating processes as well as by introducing new technologies.

"The good news is that most amount of these emissions is produced by a small number of these players.

"For the industry, we will have to regulate them even more to make sure that the emissions they are producing will add up to our national goals leading to 2030."

Industries contributed 54 per cent of Singapore's carbon emissions in 2005, and are projected to contribute 60.3 per cent in 2020 in a business-as-usual scenario.

Singapore's goal is to hit an emissions peak by 2030. "This is a huge challenge because we still need to have an economy that will support our people's livelihood and at the same time, not produce even more emissions for that purpose," he said.

Being more energy-efficient would not be new for these energy-intensive companies; many are international firms that already have more efficient practices elsewhere.

"We want to ensure that what they're already practising overseas comes to Singapore," said the minister.

Asked what regulations the government might have in mind, he replied that it was "still early days".

There are many laws and regulations that the government will have to look into as it works towards bringing the entire country on board, he said; he added that various agencies led by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean - who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change - have been working on this for many years, and will start to implement their plans for the various sectors once the Paris accord has been reached.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will then monitor and execute the policy, said Mr Masagos.

The Energy Conservation Act, which came into effect in April 2013, makes it mandatory for Singapore's most energy-intensive industrial companies - those in manufacturing, utilities, sewage and waste management - to implement basic energy management practices.

About 170 of such firms, which consume more than 54 terajoules (TJ) of energy a year, are required to appoint an energy manager, report energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and submit energy-efficiency improvement plans to the NEA.

In 2013, they accounted for about 83 per cent of Singapore's consumption of primary energy, that is, energy contained within energy sources like raw fuels, and 63 per cent of the consumption of final energy, or energy supplied to consumers.

On Tuesday, Mr Masagos attended the opening of a facility that reduces the weight of incineration bottom ash - what is left after rubbish is incinerated - by 10 per cent by recovering its metal content. This recovery process prolongs the lifespan of the Semakau landfill.

The facility is operated by Remex Minerals Singapore, a subsidiary of German firm Remex Mineralstoff GmbH, which runs similar metal-recovery facilities in the Netherlands and Germany.

The Remex Metal Recovery Facility is a "critical component" of Singapore's long-term plan to becoming a zero-waste nation, a key theme of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, said Mr Masagos.

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