Govt taking steps to cut Singapore’s carbon emissions

Today Online 16 Apr 16;

We thank Mr Richmond Lee for his interest in climate action (“More Govt action needed to help tackle climate change”; April 9).

Before the Paris Agreement, Singapore committed to reduce our emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around the same time. This is an ambitious goal given our limited renewable energy options.

Singapore uses natural gas, the cleanest form of fossil fuel, for over 90 per cent of our power generation. We will step up plans to increase the adoption of renewable energy.

By 2020, 350 megawatt-peak of solar power, representing five per cent of peak electricity demand, will be installed. More solar photovoltaic systems will be deployed on government agencies’ facilities and roofs of Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks.

The National Environment Agency administers the Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme, which provides consumers with more information on the energy cost and consumption of major home appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

Minimum Energy Performance Standards are mandated to eliminate the sale of energy-inefficient home appliances. The standards are regularly reviewed and updated in tandem with technological advancements.

These programmes encourage consumers to choose more efficient products with lower life-cycle costs and carbon emissions.

The Building and Construction Authority encourages buildings to be designed with good natural ventilation through its Green Mark scheme. The target is for 80 per cent of buildings to be Green Mark-certified by 2030.

To encourage recycling, all HDB estates now have one recycling bin per block. Since 2014, all new HDB blocks have been designed with centralised chutes for recyclables, accessible on every floor.

The Government will continue to enhance existing measures and introduce new ones to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. All stakeholders, including businesses, households and individuals, must also play a part by conserving energy and minimising waste.

More Govt action needed to help tackle climate change
RICHMOND LEE Today Online 9 Apr 16;

Climate experts have warned that this could be the next hottest year on record after two straight years. (“Planetary warming reaches new level of worrying extremes”; March 19).

Climatologist James Hansen cautioned presciently in the 1980s that the effects of global warming could be abrupt.

Now, the unfolding weather abnormalities and disasters often catch us off guard.

The effect of sudden change should seep into the consciousness of Singaporeans and Malaysians, as we are experiencing warmer, drier days owing to the extended El Nino, made worse by global warming.

In scientific literature, it is easy to find examples of how climate change has been linked to a higher incidence of extreme El Nino weather events.

The previous extreme El Nino event, in 1997/1998, highlighted to Singaporeans that unpredictable weather patterns precipitated the Indonesian haze, and affected our health and economy adversely.

An extreme El Nino and haze severity are correlated, proving that it takes only a tiny temperature change to cause an observable domino effect. The haze in 2013 and last year were probably disasters, relative to the scale of the 1997 event.

At this stage, geoscientists and climate experts are providing more accurate models and data for the world, and warning of an even steeper decline in the state of our environment.

Yet, political inertia has left some world powers such as the United States tangled in domestic bickering over the issue of enacting stricter environmental requirements for coal-fired power plants.

Last year’s Paris Agreement on climate change was a landmark, as world leaders were committed to cutting greenhouse emissions. But we now need to ask ourselves: What’s next?

Past environmental letters to Voices have contributed ways of greening our society better, ideas that are worth pursuing.

Take, for instance, the plastic reduction initiative by the National University of Singapore Students Against Violation of the Earth (“Awareness of plastic waste is insufficient to bring change”; March 31, online).

On the whole, the Government should be more proactive and rigorous by enacting laws similar to that in South Korea, Japan or Taiwan to separate trash, recyclables and batteries, which could contain toxic chemicals.

This would be a clear signal of progress towards a more environmentally conscious future.

We have a good track record of using clean fuel for our power, but we must still keep track of advances in photovoltaic and other renewable sources. Our future energy mix should be less dependent on fossil fuel.

Homes could be more energy-efficient by favouring energy-saving appliances.

We could build houses with higher ceilings, and buildings with architecture that encourages natural wind to enter the apartments.

There should also be a shift in our consumption habits, while redesigning products that eliminate waste should be another green goal.

Climate change is inevitable; what is not is the scale of its severity. If those effects are not attenuated now, there would be more uncertainty and any environmental fallout would have greater political and socio-economic repercussions.

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