Singapore pares emission cut plans after Copenhagen

Reuters 11 Jan 10;

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore said on Monday it will go ahead with existing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but further pledged reductions will depend on a successful agreement in global climate talks.

Environment Minister Yaacob Ibrahim told parliament Singapore would start implementing energy efficiency measures announced last year that would cut emissions by 7-11 percent on business as usual levels by 2020.

This would be below a 16 percent cut that Singapore pledged just ahead of U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen last month, which aimed to agree on a global pact but instead ended with a non-binding accord far short of its original goals.

"When a global agreement on climate change is reached we will implement the additional measures to achieve the full 16 percent reduction below business as usual in 2020," he said.

Environmentalists said they hoped countries would not lower voluntary targets to cut back emissions given the absence of a global accord, which negotiators are still aiming to reach in another round of talks scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico.

"We find it disappointing that countries are going to step back and lower their ambition," WWF project coordinator Diane McFadzien told Reuters.

"I haven't seen evidence of it becoming a trend yet, but I hope it will not become a trend."

Wealthy city-state Singapore, with one of the world's best living standards in terms of GDP per capita, has come under fire from environmentalists who point to its energy-intensive economy and high per-capita emissions.

Singapore aims to spur economic growth by increasing its population and attracting further manufacturing investment, which will make cutting absolute emissions difficult, a problem faced by many developing nations unwilling to sign up to legally binding cuts.

As part of the Copenhagen accord, developing nations need to put their voluntary national pledges on a global list by the end of January.

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Neil Chatterjee)

Government working towards reducing carbon emissions by 16%
Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia 11 Jan 10;

SINGAPORE: The Minister for Environment and Water Resources said Monday the government is still working towards reducing carbon emissions by 16 per cent.

After the Copenhagen climate talks failed to produce a legally binding agreement, leaders said Singapore would go ahead to cut emissions by between seven and 11 per cent below Business-As-Usual levels by 2020.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Yaacob Ibrahim said the full 16 per cent target will be implemented when a global agreement is reached.

However, there are no plans to raise that target.

The minister added that while the country has limited access to alternative energy sources, the government is working with industries to be more energy efficient.

"These figures that we've come up with are actually quite credible, based on the conditions in which we are subjected to," said Dr Yaacob. "We will continue to invest and learn and as we improve.

"If we can do more, we will certainly do so. But we cannot forget that whatever we do, it must not be at the expense of economic growth, because if we do not have the growth, we will not have the resources to do what we want to do."

In mid-December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore would cut emissions by between seven to 11 per cent below Business-As-Usual levels, which was originally planned as part of its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, announced in April last year.

The plan calls for S$1 billion to be invested over five years to promote clean technologies and reduce energy consumption.

- CNA/yb

Singapore to go ahead with carbon emission cuts
Jessica Cheam Straits Times 12 Jan 10;

THE failure to reach a deal on climate change at Copenhagen last month will not stop Singapore from implementing steps to reduce its carbon emissions, said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, yesterday.

These measures, announced under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint launched last April, will reduce about

7 per cent to 11 per cent of Singapore's emissions below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 2020.

When a legally binding climate change deal is finally reached, Singapore will implement additional measures to achieve the full 16 per cent reduction below BAU by 2020, as it previously pledged to do, Dr Yaacob told Parliament.

He was responding to a query by Nominated MP (NMP) Paulin Straughan on Copenhagen's implications for Asean and Singapore.

Dr Yaacob noted that although the political deal struck - called the Copenhagen Accord - was not perfect, 'it provides a step in the direction of arriving at a global legally binding framework agreement to address climate change'.

He said it was 'premature to assess the implications of the there was no significant...broad consensus on the key substantive issues'.

Still, climate change is a key issue for many Asean countries as 'we are collectively and individually vulnerable to the adverse impact of global warming', he added.

Dr Yaacob also addressed queries by Associate Professor Straughan and Madam Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC) on the threat rising sea levels might pose.

He said that based on current data, Singapore is okay but studies are under way to better understand its impact over the longer term.

This study is being subjected to international peer review to ensure that there is enough robustness and when completed, it will be announced, he said.

When asked about a timeframe for this threat occurring, Dr Yaacob said that 'frankly, nobody knows. The time line is very, very long'.

But Singapore is doing what it can to improve its resource efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint.

In response to a request by NMP Mildred Tan, Dr Yaacob highlighted that $1 billion has been set aside over five years to implement initiatives under the sustainable blueprint.

And since last April, various incentive schemes and other investments in sustainable development have been announced.

These include $100 million to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, $43 million to implement cycling infrastructure in some HDB towns, and $31 million to test-bed solar technology.

A further $680 million has been allocated to build new capabilities in clean-energy and water technologies - sectors that could create an economic value-add of $3.4 billion and generate the employment of 18,000 by 2015, he noted.

The blueprint will evolve as targets are fine-tuned to take into account factors such as improvements in technology, changes in cost and public response, added Dr Yaacob.

'Singapore can be greener'
Esther Ng, Today Online 12 Jan 10;

SINGAPORE - Is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent by 2020 from our "business-as-usual" (BAU) levels - given the threat of rising sea levels brought on by global warming - all that Singapore can do?

Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Paulin Straughan believes more can be done.

Singapore pledged that target in Copenhagen last month, but yesterday in Parliament, Dr Straughan shared how observers told her that was easily achievable.

She asked Minister for Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim whether the country should aim for a higher target.

While agreeing that the target was "doable", Dr Yaacob said Singapore did not have a lot of alternative energy sources and that green targets had to be calibrated to economic growth. "At the end of the day, whatever we do must ... not be at the expense of economic growth, because if we don't have the growth, we won't have the resources to do the things we want to do," he said.

The 16 per cent is on top of targets mentioned in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint last April, which is a 7 to 11 per cent reduction of emissions below BAU levels.

BAU refers to projected emission levels without any mitigating measures, including those already announced this year.

Meanwhile, the Government will continue to invest in clean energy.

MP for West Coast GRC Ho Geok Cho asked which industries were heavy polluters of greenhouse gases and what should be done about the emissions.

Dr Yaacob said these would be petrochemical companies, but he assured Parliament that various agencies had been working with the industry very closely, ensuring that it not only preserved jobs but "switched over to more efficient technologies".