More pre-emptive action needed to solve transboundary haze issue: WWF Singapore

The green group hopes that the upcoming Budget will allocate funds for Singapore to fulfil its commitments inked at the climate change conference in Paris last year.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 17 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: One green group in the Republic is calling for more pre-emptive action to tackle the issue of transboundary haze. WWF Singapore said steps also need to be taken to increase awareness among the public, to teach them what they can do to cause minimal impact on the environment.

According to the chairperson of the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Environment and Water Resources, Lee Bee Wah, concrete steps are being taken to combat issues such as transboundary haze.

The Environment and Water Resources Ministry said it is working with industries to adopt sustainable land clearing practices, as well as clamping down on errant businesses.

Last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) issued preventive notices to six companies in Indonesia, suspected of causing forest fires. The Government has also said it will do more to promote green procurement.

WWF Singapore is already calling for a campaign to encourage Singaporeans to be more responsible consumers.

"The Government wants us all to make the right, sustainable choices,” said Mr Kim Stengert, director of communications at WWF Singapore. “I hope from our end that there would be some place in the Budget to run a great consumer campaign to drive some more awareness around that topic."

"Moving forward, perhaps is to do more education, share with Singaporeans why they have to move in certain directions,” added Ms Lee. “Enforcement is just one aspect. I think if we can get everyone's buy-in, that would be more effective."


However, as the region approaches the traditional dry season, which typically occurs in the second half of the year, Mr Stengert said more pre-emptive action needs to be taken to tackle possible forest fires which can result in transboundary haze, like year-round efforts in engaging with counterparts in Indonesia.

He said: "You need to do that because with three, four months of haze now in Singapore, it actually seems to become a problem that we're facing 40 to 50 per cent of the year."

He also expressed his hope that the upcoming Budget will allocate funds for Singapore to fulfil its commitments inked at the climate change conference (COP21) in Paris last year.

This includes increasing the use of solar energy, promoting the use of public transport and encouraging energy-saving behaviour. This would all be aimed at reducing the country's emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030.

Ms Lee said: "Building the best home, high-quality living environment, has always been very high on our agenda. We would like to have clean air, we would like to have clean and healthy living environment, and of course, endearing social spaces."

Besides tackling transboundary haze, the ministry said it is also looking at reviewing the Water Master Plan to secure a reliable and sustainable water supply, as well as get Singaporeans to reduce, reuse and recycle as the country works towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation.

- CNA/ek

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