Best of our wild blogs: 2 Nov 14

Life History of the Lemon Emigrant
from Butterflies of Singapore

Creature of the Month – Robber Fly
from Bugs & Insects of Singapore

Sapphire Flutterer mating
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (31 Oct 20140)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Morning Walk At Venus Drive (01 Nov 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) Photo Exhibition 8-22 Nov
from wild shores of singapore

Tue 11 Nov 2014: 6.30pm @ Brookhaven – Book Launch of “Dynamic Environments of Singapore” by Dan Friess & Grahame Oliver (NUS Geography) from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

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Dolphins at UWS living in terrible conditions, says experts

AsiaOne 1 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE - Poor water quality, run-down infrastructure, extended contact with humans - these were the main criticisms two visiting marine experts had on Sentosa's Underwater World Singapore (UWS), where a pink dolphin was recently discovered to be suffering from skin cancer.

Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute said this was one of the worst facilities she had ever seen for water quality.

"The tank was full of algae and chipped paint, and the water quality was simply below standards," she said in an interview with SPH Razor, adding that while she did not want to attribute the poor water quality as causing the dolphin's skin condition, the poor water quality certainly would not assist it in healing.

"The bad water quality is much worse because they have got a dolphin with a skin condition," she said, stressing that UWS has an extra responsibility to improve the water quality because of the dolphin.

Former Sea World Orlando Florida trainer Samantha Berg noted that the dolphins were subjected to ultraviolet radiation all-day long because of the small amount of shade structure, which would also affect their skin.
Rose highlighted two main problems with the dolphin tank at UWS.

"First, the actual infrastructure is deteriorated, and there is rust and chipped paint which is extremely dangerous for the dolphins. It means that the paint has been chipping off into the water, which is something that requires the dolphins to be moved temporarily while the tank is completely drained and resurfaced," Rose said.

Berg felt that there was not anything that was salvageable from the pool's condition.

Rose said the second problem is the algae growth, which is indicative of potentially high faecal coliform, and that the water was not being kept clean enough.

"That is something UWS can deal with in the short term. Sometimes, all you have to do is manually scrub the walls and get rid of all the algae," she explained.

Berg also raised the question of why the filtration system was not taking out the faecal matter. "Are they not chlorinating it? Is it not chemically balanced? This is a situation that has to be addressed," she said.

"I'm not saying you need sterile conditions, as these animals do live out in the ocean, but you do need clean conditions, and that water is not clean," Rose added.

According to Berg, UWS needs to get in an expert on water quality who can evaluate what's going on with the water quality at the very least.

Berg and Rose were also surprised at the public being allowed to take photographs with the dolphins after the show.

"That dolphin was beached on a shallow ledge for as long as it took all the people to get their photographs taken, and it is very stressful for the dolphins to have gravity acting on them for that length of time," Rose said, while Berg added that she did not think it was appropriate for the animals to be subjected to that.

Rose also added that there was very little supervision of the public as they were standing around a very low barrier.

"This is not just an issue of the dolphins' welfare, but also a public safety issue, and it is something that can be addressed in the short term," she said.

She added that the global industry of dolphinariums have standards, but the enclosure at UWS does not meet those standards.

"There are ways to fix it, some of which are long term and some are short term, and it would be nice if the management was willing to meet to discuss them," she said.

Nevertheless, the two experts concurred in feeling that the dolphin show itself was better than most.

"It was low key and there was a great deal of educational information, relatively limited as to what they do in the wild, but it was informative," Rose said, adding that most shows were total entertainment with a lot of loud music.

Berg added that what they had observed in this brief period is the same problem that all marine parks and aquariums face, which is the inability to meet the social and spatial needs of the animals.

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Navigating Pulau Ubin without GPS

Nabilah Said The Straits Times AsiaOne 2 Nov 14;

It is a warm Friday morning in Pulau Ubin and Mr Sebastian Wong is giving me a crash course on orienteering.

My eyes widen as he brandishes a compass - the last time I used one was probably for a science class in primary school.

Mr Wong, 33, the director of outdoor sports company Osportz that is behind the Ubin Wayfinder navigational race taking place in Pulau Ubin tomorrow, has devised a simple race with four checkpoints to test my skills.

I start to sweat and it is not just because of the weather - the memory of getting lost while driving to MacRitchie Reservoir from Tampines in August, even with a GPS-enabled mobile phone, is still fresh on my mind. (I ended up in Bukit Batok).

I have run multiple marathons and climbed Mount Kinabalu last year, mainly just by following signs or the person in front of me. Orienteering, however, is new to me.

But Mr Wong, who is also the treasurer of the Orienteering Federation of Singapore, assures me that I will be fine.

His passion is evident and he is familiar with the island - he is greeted often by the residents, who recognise him from his multiple recce trips. At least if I do get lost, I will be in good hands.

He teaches me how to "set" my map first. This involves lining up North on the compass with the North on the map.

This ensures that the map is in line with the actual ground you are standing on. Then, he shows me how to keep the map pointing north whenever I move, to keep the map set.

This is where I stumble a bit, having always been reliant on technology. The mobile phone's GPS turns the map automatically when you move, but a physical map has to be rotated manually.

I take a while to practise this, which involves me turning round and round like a vacuum cleaning robot on the blink. All this, before I have even begun the "race".

With that nice start, I look at my first checkpoint on the map. It is next to the sea and I should be looking for a white and orange marker, which is an international orienteering marker used in races worldwide.

Easy peasy, I think to myself. The map is marked with road names, so I figure I just have to follow the signs.

But as we proceed on bicycle (yes, I am mercifully spared from running), I realise there are not that many signs after all.

Instead, I have to keep my eyes peeled for physical landmarks, checking them against the map. When there is a fork in the road, I have to stop and check that I am going the right way.

What I like about the experience is that it is so different from being on mainland Singapore, where we tend to overlook our physical surroundings in the daily bustle.

As I navigate my way around Pulau Ubin, I start to feel a strong sense of connection with the island.

"I see water," I exclaim excitedly as I find the first checkpoint.

I insert the key on my finger into a device called the control marker, which will record my timing and serve as proof that I have been there.

This a special timing device called Sportident, of which Mr Wong is the sole distributor.

The next checkpoint, located on a hill, is more challenging as I have to climb a forested area on foot to find it.

Staying behind me, he gives me some helpful hints on how to read the contour lines on the map and use them to gauge where I am.

Mosquitoes are having a field day feasting on my blood, but I hardly notice them as I focus on finding the next control marker. When I finally catch sight of the orange and white flag, I punch the air in satisfaction. I'm slowly starting to realise how this can be fun.

I also begin to feel a little more confident, correcting Mr Wong when he identifies a road wrongly, pointing to my map as proof.

He seems proud - I am probably like one of the little kids he teaches regularly.

The next two checkpoints are not too hard to find either. But 30 minutes in, fatigue starts to set in, which makes me less alert. Also, it is getting hotter and I am thankful when we end just before noon.

I punch out at the finishing point and receive a slip of paper which tells me I have found four checkpoints in about an hour.

With a sense of accomplishment, I down two bottles of water and hold on to the paper like a medal.

I might stick to my GPS on normal days, but I am encouraged to sign up for another orienteering session soon.


What: With 10 checkpoints spread across 8km, this race is open to individuals and families and groups of up to five members. Registration has closed, but those interested can meet at Pulau Ubin in front of the HSBC volunteer hub to register on the spot.
Where: Pulau Ubin
When: Tomorrow, 8am to 12 noon
Admission: $25 for individuals, $50 for a pair, $60 for a team of three to five members

What: This club organises orienteering gatherings at least once a month at places, including MacRitchie Park and Bishan Park
Admission: Free

What: Organised by Safra Yishun, this yearly event combines multiple disciplines such as running, cycling, kayaking and navigation. Race routes are revealed only on the day of the race.
When: Jan 11, 2015
Admission: $30 for parent-and-child team (up to 10km) and Ultra Kids (up to 15km), $220 for Youth and Sprint (up to 30km), $300 for Ultra (up to 55km)
Info: E-mail

Info: Go to to search for upcoming courses

Compass, map set, go
Nabilah Said The Straits Times AsiaOne 2 Nov 14;

After chalking up about 15 endurance races a year for the past six years, Mr Norhalim Nordin was ready for a change of scenery.

Together with five buddies, the 29-year-old supply chain coordinator signed up for the Nathan Singapore City Race in March, his first free-form race.

The 45km event has no fixed route. Instead, participants have to clear five checkpoints scattered across the island in the shortest time on foot, using a map.

"Free-form races get you to explore places you've rarely been to, instead of the similar routes where half and full marathons are always held," he says.

Without a set route or signs to guide them, participants have to plan the quickest way to get to the checkpoints pre-marked on a physical map, which may sometimes come with clues.

These races are usually competitive and prizes, which include cash or products, are awarded to those who finish first.

Mr Norhalim, whose group took eight hours to complete the race and came in 10th out of 137 teams, likens the experience to a treasure hunt with time pressure.

Others might dub it Amazing Race, after the popular American reality TV series.

The technical term for this activity is "orienteering".

It involves navigating an unknown area to look for clues or checkpoints. Participants use a map and sometimes a compass, to find their way around on foot.

This may be familiar ground for those who have served in the army or were scouts or girl guides in school, but the activity is also becoming popular among the masses.

At least six races organised here this year contain some element of orienteering. Two of them - Nathan Singapore City Race and Ubin Wayfinder - revolve solely around navigational skills and made their debut last year.

The Nathan Singapore City Race, which drew about 3,500 participants last year, saw 4,000 people this year. Organised by sports event organiser Pink Apple, the race has multiple categories with distances that range from 5 to 45km.

Each route features five checkpoints which the organiser describes as "hidden treasures", such as a portcullis (a vertical iron gate) at Labrador Park and Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.

Ubin Wayfinder, a similar race on a smaller scale, takes place tomorrow at Pulau Ubin. Held by outdoor sports events company Osportz, it will flag off with about 160 racers, up from about 120 last year, and will cover 8km and 10 checkpoints.

Both races can be done solo or in groups.

While conventional races test stamina, orienteering races require map-reading skills, a good sense of direction and, in the case of group challenges, communication skills.

The level of technical skill can differ from race to race. For example, maps might suffice for some but others might require a compass.

The lack of signage, recognisable landmarks and spotty cellphone networks add to the level of difficulty for the participants of Ubin Wayfinder.

Checkpoints for the race have names such as Knoll- North/Fallen Tree, Quarry View or simply Trail.

For those used to relying on GPS, having to read physical maps and compasses can be a big hurdle.

Teacher Ana Wong says with a laugh: "It will be challenging. I'm totally new to Pulau Ubin. Maybe I should read up on how to use the compass."

The 33-year-old is taking part in Ubin Wayfinder, her first free-form race, with a friend she met while attending an orienteering session.

Some existing adventure races also include elements of orienteering, among other things.

For example, the annual Safra Avventura race held in January had a section in the 50km Ultra category that saw participants navigating only with a map through Simpang, a swampy area near Yishun.

Students at Republic Polytechnic are organising a multi-disciplinary race that is about 9km long which incorporates navigational challenges. The race, Avontuur de Republic, takes place next Friday and is open only to its students, alumni and staff.

Student Nelson Chua, 18, one of the organisers, says: "Some aspects of orienteering may be quite dry, especially the theoretical parts. But once people find themselves getting a bit lost, that's when it gets exciting."

But exciting is probably not how Mr Sanjay Radakrishna would describe his real-life predicament when he got lost while trekking alone at Phnom Aural, the tallest mountain in Cambodia, in June.

The 26-year-old National Institute of Education undergraduate made the headlines, surviving only on water for a week after a fall led him to lose his way.

The trek was supposed to take just two to three hours.

With a dead mobile phone and no GPS, he followed a waterfall trail and used the position of the sun as a gauge of direction to find his way back to civilisation.

Mr Sanjay, who has taken part in a few orienteering races previously, said his brain kicked into high gear to look for clues to help him identify which way to go.

"When you are lost, your brain works differently. I realised there are always some clues to help you. For example, if you see rubbish on the ground, you will know that someone had been there," he says, adding that that was how he knew he was close to civilisation.

He says he now takes along food, a waterproof jacket and, if available, a physical map, no matter how short his climbs are expected to be.

He has done 49 climbs since 2003 and will be leading a group of climbers up Mount Rinjani on Indonesia's Lombok island next month.

For those keen to equip themselves with such essential life skills, there are courses and sessions on the basics of orienteering.

For example, a group of enthusiasts who formed the Orienteering Federation of Singapore last year conduct orienteering activities in parks around Singapore for free.

The sessions, which take place about once a month, are organised using Meetup, an online social networking portal. The Singapore Orienteering Meetup Club has 125 members and about 10 people attend each session on average.

Mr Fish Tan, 26, the federation's vice-president who organises the sessions, says: "Some people have the impression that it is a fast-paced sport. But it's a sport that everybody can do. Old people can slowly complete the route."

Young children can also pick up life skills from orienteering. The People's Association has organised two such family-friendly events this year - at Bishan Park and the Japanese Garden.No other orienteering sessions are planned, but a spokesman says it might offer more if there is interest.

Travel consultant Gayathri Shankar, 36, who attended the session at Bishan Park with her six-year-old son Gaurav Panicker, found it a fruitful experience.

"He learnt a lot, such as teamwork, how to read and understand instructions and how you need to follow a system," she says.

They took about an hour to cover more than 30 checkpoints and she may just have a little cartographer on her hands now.

She adds: "We are addicted to maps now. We go to the zoo and he has to get the map first."

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Updated Sustainable Singapore Blueprint to be unveiled next week, says PM Lee

Sharon See Channel NewsAsia 1 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE: The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint will be a plan all Singaporeans can be part of and a way to create a home they can be proud of, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking at his constituency Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West's annual Tree Planting Day on Saturday (Nov 1), Mr Lee said the refreshed blueprint will be unveiled next week.

This year, Mr Lee planted a Happiness Tree (Garcinia subelliptica) at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10. In all, nine trees were planted by MPs and residents of the area.

But he said: "We also have to do more than just plant trees. We also want to make the whole of the environment sustainable, friendly to people, also able to be friendly to the environment as a whole.

“Next week, we will unveil our new Sustainable Singapore Blueprint - the vision, how to make Singapore clean and green for many years to come. It's a plan which all Singaporeans will be part of, it's a way to create a home we can all be proud of."

The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint was launched in 2009 and outlines Singapore's twin objectives to achieve economic growth and a good living environment.

A review of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint began late last year, and Mr Lee had said then that it will be updated with new initiatives like building more environmentally-friendly hawker centres and reducing Singapore's carbon emissions.

Mr Lee also launched the Ang Mo Kio Town Council's "Cleaner, Greener, Together" campaign, which will tackle issues like dengue, litter and energy conservation. He urged residents to do their part for the environment.

"In Singapore, we have a small place. When you have rubbish, we have to take it somewhere, we can incinerate it, there's still the ash. The ash has to go somewhere. We send it to Pulau Semakau,” he said. “But the island is only so big. If there's too much rubbish and all the ash goes to Semakau and it fills up, then Pulau Semakau will become Bukit Semakau, and we'll have a mountain of ash made in Singapore. I think no need - better we make less ash, it's better for all of us."

Mr Lee added the town council is also working with HDB to identify suitable blocks to install solar panels.

- CNA/by

Updated Sustainable Singapore Blueprint to be unveiled next week, says PM Lee
SHARON SEE Today Online 1 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE — The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint will be a plan all Singaporeans can be part of to create a home they can be proud of, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking to residents from Ang Mo Kio GRC today (Nov 1), where Mr Lee is also MP, he said there are many ideas in the updated blueprint, which will be unveiled next week. “It will lay out the government’s vision to make Singapore clean and green for many years to come,” Mr Lee said.

The blueprint, which was launched in 2009, outlines strategies to achieve twin objectives of economic growth and a good living environment.

A review of the blueprint began late last year, and Mr Lee had said it will be updated with new initiatives like building more environmentally-friendly hawker centres and reducing carbon emissions.

Separately, Mr Lee also launched Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s “Cleaner, Greener, Together” campaign at Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West’s annual Tree Planting Day. A total of nine trees were planted by Mr Lee, MPs of the area and residents. The campaign has five areas of focus, including dengue prevention, saving energy, keeping the neighborhood litter-free and recycling.

“I hope you can do your part - there are recycling bins at every HDB block so please try to use them. Even better, before you buy something, think about whether you really need them. Don’t buy things just because they are on sale. Save the environment and save money at the same time,” Mr Lee said.

He added the town council is also working with HDB to identify suitable blocks to install solar panels.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, who is stepping down as Chairman of the PAP Punggol East Branch, was also seen at the event. Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the event, he said he was there at the invitation of Mr Seng Han Thong, who is an MP of Ang Mo Kio GRC.

He said this is his first visit to the constituency, adding that he will spend more time on the ground to see what are the areas he can contribute in. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

Recycling, energy-saving to figure in green plan
Lim Yan Liang The Straits TimesS AsiaOne 2 Nov 14;

An updated blueprint to keep Singapore clean and green in the years ahead will be unveiled this week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Mr Lee said he would withhold details till the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint is out, but hinted at what it might involve at his constituency's annual Tree Planting Day and start of its environmental awareness campaign.

Residents ought to be more conscious about recycling what they use and conserving energy, from using less air-conditioning to turning off the lights and even broadband when not at home, he added.

"The 'Cleaner, Greener, Together' campaign we are launching here in Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC will contribute to our national vision," he said in a speech.

The revised blueprint will outline Singapore's environmental priorities and guide its sustainable development until 2030. The original blueprint in 2009 set targets for things like energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

Mr Lee said the new blueprint was "a plan which all Singaporeans will be part of. It's the way to create a home that we can all be proud of".

Yesterday, he harked back to Singapore's original greening efforts, and urged everyone to play their part, noting that it has been more than 50 years since Mr Lee Kuan Yew planted a tree at Farrer Circus for the first Tree Planting Day, which has since become a regular event in all constituencies.

"That was 1963. Fifty years later, we've planted millions of trees all over Singapore," PM Lee said.

"But we also have to do more than just plant trees: we also want to make the whole of the environment sustainable, friendly to people, and also (for Singaporeans) to be friendly to the environment."

Residents should think before they put something away as trash, and look at ways they can reduce waste, he added.

Mr Lee noted that waste and ash from incinerating trash all went to Pulau Semakau. The sole remaining landfill is 8km south of Singapore island and "only so big", he said.

"Pulau Semakau will become Bukit Semakau" should it fill up, he added, alluding to the scary prospect of the island becoming a mound of ash.

Mr Lee, in opening a community garden, also reminded residents that they had a part to play in stamping out mosquito breeding and keeping their town clean.

Also present at yesterday's event was Dr Koh Poh Koon. The defeated People's Action Party candidate in the 2013 Punggol East by-election, who is a surgeon, said he was invited by MP Seng Han Thong and would help out more in Ang Mo Kio.

"I'll probably spend a bit more time on the ground, just to see what are the areas that I can contribute in," he said.

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Factories 'suitable' to tap sun's rays

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Nov 14;
Manufacturing companies in Singapore, especially power-guzzling ones like semiconductor firms, are likely to benefit more from installing solar panels to save on electricity costs, a study here has found.

These companies operate throughout the week, even on weekends, and heavy-duty production companies are also likely to have large roofs which can accommodate more panels for economies of scale, according to the study by solar energy firm REC and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris).

In contrast, commerce and trade companies such as warehouses and distribution centres usually do not operate on weekends, which limits the size of their solar power systems, said the researchers.

"Making the system larger would reduce the consumption from the (power) grid during the week, but the excess electricity on the weekend would be wasted," they explained.

REC, with Seris' help, had looked at commerce and trade, manufacturing and heavy-duty production companies here to see whether and how they could profit from installing solar panels on-site and using the energy generated from the sun.

The study did not include condominiums, Housing Board flats and industrial estates where companies share a building, as the rooftop space in these places is smaller and shared.

The researchers said their projections showed the companies could recoup investments in such systems in eight to nine years.

The electricity generated for the rest of the systems' typical 25- to 30-year lifespan would be almost free.

This is even as Singapore's retail electricity prices rose by 9 cents for a kilowatt hour from 2005 to last year, while the average cost of a solar power system fell by almost 40 per cent between 2011 and this year, they noted.

For companies that cannot afford or baulk at the long recoupment period, REC senior vice-president of operations and technology Ter Soon Kim said they can make use of power-purchasing agreements, where companies such as REC pay for and operate solar panels on their roofs.

In return, the companies with the panels on their roofs buy electricity from the solar panel providers at an agreed rate that is usually lower than that charged by utilities.

But Mr Ter said more can be done to boost solar power adoption in Singapore.

For instance, "buildings should be designed to be able to accommodate multiple green features such as water tanks, gardens and solar panels on their roofs, as it is more costly to retrofit the buildings", he said.

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What the railway land dispute is about

Today Online 1 Nov 14;

1990: Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia’s then Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin signed a Points of Agreement (POA), under which the Malayan Railway station would vacate the land at Tanjong Pagar — later referred to as Keppel — and relocate

The vacated land, together with two parcels at Kranji and Woodlands, would be vested in a joint venture company and developed as residential and commercial land. In exchange, a plot of land of equivalent value in Marina South will be offered to the company.

2010: The POA was followed by an impasse of 20 years, as Singapore and Malaysia could not agree on several of its clauses. In 2010, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak agreed on a landmark land swap deal. The three plots of ex-railway land — Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands — and another three plots in Bukit Timah, would be exchanged for four parcels of land in Marina South and two parcels of land in Ophir-Rochor.

A new company, M+S, was formed to develop the Marina South and Ophir-Rochor parcels. Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional held a 60 per cent stake in the company and Temasek Holdings held the remaining 40 per cent.

As the Bukit Timah parcels were not covered by the POA, Malaysia agreed development charges were payable for these plots. However, they disputed the charges for Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands. Both sides agreed to settle the matter through arbitration under the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.


• Both parties agreed to creating a joint venture to develop the three POA parcels, subject to Singapore’s development laws. This includes the need to obtain planning permission. As a precondition, the laws here require the company to pay development charges.

• During negotiations in and after 2008, Malaysia agreed or appeared to agree that development charges would be payable; therefore it cannot assert otherwise.


• A true interpretation of the POA would mean no development charges was payable.

• The POA already specified the nature of the development to be undertaken.

• The granting of planning permission did not enhance the value of the parcels; the value was enhanced under the POA, which obliges Singapore to permit the land be used for development.

• Malaysia never agreed development charges were payable on the parcels.

Arbitral Tribunal decides Malaysia not liable to pay tax on former Malayan Railway land
Today Online 31 Oct 14;

Joint statement on the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal on the issue of Development Charges Relating To The Former Malayan Railway Land Under The Points Of Agreement On Malayan Railway Land In Singapore:

In September 2010, the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia announced that both countries had different views relating to the development charges on the three parcels of Points of Agreement (POA) land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands. Both Leaders agreed to settle the issue amicably through arbitration and agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding.

In January 2012, Singapore and Malaysia entered into an agreement, submitting the issue to final and binding arbitration. The Permanent Court of Arbitration acted as Registry in this arbitration. The arbitration proceedings were conducted in accordance with the procedural rules agreed to by Malaysia and Singapore, and before a three person Arbitral Tribunal appointed by the countries.

The Arbitral Tribunal delivered its award on 30 October 2014. It decided that M+S Pte Ltd would not have been liable to pay development charges on the Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands parcels if the said parcels had been vested in M+S Pte Ltd and if M+S Pte Ltd had actually developed the lands in accordance with the proposed land uses set out in the Annexes to the POA.

Both Singapore and Malaysia are satisfied with the arbitral process and affirm that both countries were afforded the opportunity to fully present their case on the issue. Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to abide by and fully implement the decision of the Tribunal. By resolving this matter through third party arbitration, both countries have demonstrated our common commitment to settling disputes in an amicable manner, in accordance with international law. The full and successful implementation of the POA has paved the way for joint development projects and closer collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia. Both countries look forward to working closely together to further strengthen and broaden our bilateral cooperation.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

PM Lee: Singapore fully accepts the Tribunal’s decision
Today Online 31 Oct 14;

In response to media queries on the award of the arbitral tribunal constituted under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Arbitral Tribunal) on the issue of development charges relating to the former Malayan Railway land under the Points of Agreement (POA) on Malayan Railway land in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:

“This was an issue left over from the Points of Agreement (POA) which was signed in 1990. There was a question of whether development charge was payable on the three parcels of POA land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, and Woodlands. Prime Minister Najib and I agreed to resolve it through arbitration. This has been done, and the Tribunal has decided that development charge was not payable.

Singa­pore fully accepts the Tribunal’s decision. It allows us to put this matter behind us. I am happy that Singapore and Malaysia have been able to resolve this dispute in this impartial and amicable way.

The full and successful implementation of the POA in 2011 has paved the way for joint development projects and closer collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia. These include links in transport connectivity, and trade and investment. I look forward to making progress on them, and working with PM Najib bilaterally, and in ASEAN to benefit both countries.”

Tribunal resolves issue involving Malaysia-Singapore joint venture company
The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 1 Nov 14;

PETALING JAYA: An international arbitral tribunal has decided that the Malaysia-Singapore joint venture company, M+S Pte Ltd, need not pay a development charge on the three parcels of former KTM Bhd land in the island republic.

The decision came four years after the Malaysian and Singaporean governments decided to refer to the Permanent Court of Arbitration whether the development charge should be imposed on the original land.

The foreign ministries of Malaysia and Singapore in a joint statement yesterday said that both countries were satisfied with the arbitral process and have agreed to abide by and fully implement the decision of the tribunal.

M+S Pte Ltd is a joint venture company 60% owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, while Singapore's Temasek Holdings has the other 40% stake.

"The arbitral tribunal decided that M+S Pte Ltd would not have been liable to pay development charges on the Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands parcels if the said parcels had been vested in M+S Pte Ltd and if M+S Pte Ltd had actually developed the lands in accordance with the proposed land uses set out in the Annexes to the POA," according to the statement.

In September 2010, the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia announced that both countries had different views relating to the development charges on the three parcels of Points of Agreement (POA) land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands.

They agreed to settle the issue amicably through arbitration and agreed to accept the arbitration award as final and binding.

In January 2012, Singapore and Malaysia entered into an agreement, submitting the issue to final and binding arbitration.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration acted as Registry in this arbitration.

The arbitration proceedings were conducted in accordance with the procedural rules agreed to by Malaysia and Singapore before a three-man arbitral tribunal appointed by the countries. The tribunal delivered its decision on Thursday.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an immediate reaction said the decision would allow both countries to put the matter behind them.

"I am happy that Singapore and Malaysia have been able to resolve this dispute in this impartial and amicable way.

"This was an issue left over from the Points of Agreement (POA) which was signed in 1990. There was a question of whether development charge was payable on the three parcels of POA land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, and Woodlands.

"Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak) and I agreed to resolve it through arbitration. This has been done, and the Tribunal has decided that development charge was not payable," he said.

Lee said the full and successful implementation of the POA in 2011 had paved the way for joint development projects and closer collaboration between Singapore and Malaysia.

"These include links in transport connectivity, and trade and investment. I look forward to making progress on them, and working with PM Najib bilaterally, and in Asean to benefit both countries," Lee added.

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Making the Botanic Gardens more of a stroll in the park

David Ee The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Nov 14;

There have been changes at the Singapore Botanic Gardens over the past couple of months, with modern art, historical structures and visitor services all benefiting from a re-think.

The improvements are part of regular efforts to cater better to visitors.

"We constantly improve our landscapes as part of our landscape management plan. We also improve the facilities and amenities to better cater to the changing needs of our visitors," said Dr Nigel Taylor, director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The improvements come amid the 155-year-old gardens' bid to become Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site.

In February, The Straits Times reported that the gardens had submitted official documents in its bid to join the likes of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Royal Botanic Gardens in London as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Unesco recognition is seen as a nod to cultural or natural sites deemed to have outstanding universal value.

Among the new additions to the Botanic Gardens are two giant flower sculptures by Croatian artist Ana Tzarev, which popped up near the eco lake in May and last month. They are part of a collaboration with a local art gallery.

The elegant clock tower donated by the late environment advocate Lady Yuen Peng McNeice has been moved from the visitor centre to the orchid plaza outside the National Orchid Garden.

A new garden shop opened near the Tanglin gate entrance in September.

The locations of visitor services counters at the Tanglin and Nassim gate entrances have also been adjusted to make them more visible and to improve visitor flow.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens was founded at its present site in 1859. The 74ha park draws more than four million visitors a year. These include many local residents who relax on its grounds on weekends.

It was also instrumental in pioneering rubber cultivation and tapping techniques, as well as orchid breeding.

Unesco may decide on the gardens' nomination by next June.

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Singapore to host Sustainable Oceans Summit in 2015

Channel NewsAsia 2 Nov 14;

REYKJAVIK: Singapore will host the third edition of the World Ocean Council's Sustainable Oceans Summit in November next year, along with an Arctic Circle forum held in conjunction with the summit. Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, announced this on Friday (Oct 31) at the 2nd Arctic Circle Assembly's Opening Session, held in Reykjavik, Iceland. The event was attended by participants from 40 countries.

Singapore may not have a direct stake in the Arctic, Mr Tan said, but it does have a stake in supporting the responsible development and good governance of the region. Last year, Singapore was granted permanent observer status in the Arctic Council, which governs the Arctic region.

The Republic is also contributing to the region in matters of technical expertise, he noted. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, for example, has shared its experience in oil spill management, and Singapore is collaborating with Norway to develop and test a marine version of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the monitoring of oil spills and other marine incidents. The UAV will be able to move at a speed of 5 to 10 metres per second and provide aerial pictures of oil spill incidents that can be magnified tenfold.

With a significant increase in shipping and maritime activities in the Arctic region, Singapore supports the early conclusion of the Polar Code, Mr Tan said. The Code, which is being developed by the International Maritime Organization, will ensure the safety of ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

On Thursday, Mr Tan called on Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grímsson. They reaffirmed good bilateral relations, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, and exchanged ideas about international cooperation in the Arctic. The President had suggested that Singapore host the Arctic Circle forum in 2015.

Mr Tan also called on Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davío Gunnlaugsson and Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. Both expressed Iceland’s interest in closer relations with Singapore.

- CNA/xq

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Malaysia: Laying waste to the environment

New Straits Times 2 Nov 14;

IT’S no secret that Malaysians love food, and that is perhaps why food waste makes up 45 per cent of household waste in the country.

Leftover food that ends up rotting in landfills is a large producer of methane, which is said to be 23 times more destructive to the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2). Only a low percentage of food waste is composted as most end up in landfills.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy undersecretary Dr Gary William Theseira (environmental management and climate change division) said Malaysia was ranked about 30th in the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and around 50th in the world in terms of per capita greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions and to stop it, we need to restore atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions to pre-industrial levels by reversing emissions trends,” he said, adding that Malaysians should strive to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle.

Total national waste generation is a whopping 33,130 tonnes a day, with the Klang Valley taking the lead with 10,096 tonnes a day, followed by the northern corridor with 6,724 tonnes a day, and the southern corridor with 6,657 tonnes a day.

Theseira said the greater the economic growth, the greater the emissions.

“We are striving to decouple economic growth from emissions. When we have succeeded in doing so, economic growth can occur without growth in emissions.

“Delinking economic growth from emissions can be seen in highly developed countries, such as some of the European states.”

Theseira said most inorganic waste was recyclable while some organic waste could be recycled into other paper products, and the rest (wood, garden and kitchen waste) could be composted.

He said municipal councils should get involved in the Department of Environment’s e-waste programme to address electronic waste.

The management of natural resources would affect the level of emissions, Theseira said.

“Landfilling of waste is not sustainable because it is associated with a number of environmental hazards, such as water leachate and methane, which is emitted when organic waste decomposes in the absence of air.

“Proper management of organic waste through composting can ensure methane is neither generated nor emitted, or if captured, used as a fuel substitute for fossil fuel.”

When asked about climate change and its impact on Malaysia, Theseira said Malaysia was experiencing floods because of extreme rainfall and extended dry periods.

He said these phenomena were expected to intensify and occur more frequently as the climate continued to change.

“Malaysia doesn’t need to experience extreme weather events to be impacted by them. For example, floods in Thailand’s rice production area can affect Malaysia’s food security.

“Flood mitigation projects are part of the solution. But these need to be augmented by strategies to retain rainwater so that drainage can occur over a longer time and in a more natural manner.

“We also need to enhance land-use planning to allow for the temporary inundation of low-lying areas, which should, when dry, be used as green spaces or for recreation,” he said.

On the recent water shortages that affected thousands of people in the country, Theseira said there should be an integrated management as future dry periods were possible.

“We need to think of our entire country as a rain catchment rather than just specific forest reserves. But there is no such thing as free water. Even if you capture rain in a bucket, you still need to buy the bucket.”

At the recent United Nations summit on climate change, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said Malaysia was committed to cutting carbon emissions but that rich nations should also keep their promise to tackle global warming.

At the 2009 Copenhagen UN climate change conference, Najib had said Malaysia was on track to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent relative to gross domestic product by 2020.

This pledge was made with the understanding that all parties would honour their commitments to help developing nations in financing and technology transfer.

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Malaysia: Use purse seine starting 2015, fishermen told

M. HAMZAH JAMALUDIN New Straits Times 1 Nov 14;

KUANTAN: Trawler boat operators have been advised to use "pukat jerut" (purse seine) starting from next year as the government will ban the usage of "pukat tunda" (trawl net) from Jan 1, 2016.

Agriculture and Agro-based Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the ban would first be imposed within Zone B, between eight and 15 nautical miles from shore, and may be extended further after discussions with fishermen associations and relevant agencies.

He said about 5,000 trawler boat operators and fishermen could apply for the purse seine licences, which issuance was previously discontinued by the Fisheries Department.

"From the feedback we receive and studies made, purse seines are more suitable for Zone B and C as they have lower impact on the marine ecosystem compared with trawl nets," he told reporters after opening the "Road to the International Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Exhibition" programme here yesterday.

He said inshore fishermen, who operate within Zone A (less than 8 nautical miles from shore), must also upgrade their boats and equipment if they wanted to use the purse seine in Zone B.

"They are not allowed to use the purse seine within Zone A as it will affect inshore fishermen who are still using fishing rods and small net to catch fish," he said.

However, Ismail said the ministry might allow a smaller type of "pukat jerut" for Zone A in future, depending on the feedback from fishermen associations and the agencies involved.

Ban on trawl net fishing from 2016
The Star 3 Nov 14;

KUANTAN: The use of trawl nets for fishing will be banned beginning in 2016, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The ban will first be imposed within Zone B, which is between eight and 15 nautical miles (14.8km and 28km) from the shore, and may be extended further after discussions with fishermen associations and related agencies.

Ismail Sabri said some 5,000 trawler boat operators nationwide had been advised to use the purse seine or pukat jerut next year in order to protect the interests of inshore fishermen, who typically operated less than 14km from the shore, an area also known as Zone A.

Fishermen could start applying for the licence for using the purse seine, which was previously suspended by the Fisheries Department.

Ismail Sabri said studies and feedback received showed that the purse seine nets were more suitable for Zone B and C as they could pose less impact on the marine ecosystem compared with trawl nets.

“Meanwhile the inshore fishermen, who operate within Zone A, have to upgrade their boat capacity and equipment if they want to use the purse seine in Zone B.

“They are not allowed to use the purse seine within Zone A as it will affect other inshore fishermen who are still using fishing rods and small nets,” Ismail Sabri said after officiating an agricultural exposition at the Urban Transformation Centre here yesterday.

He added that the Government would introduce marine fish rearing projects in future as a means for fishermen to survive the monsoon months, and was prepared to allocate RM45mil for this project.

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Malaysia: 'Mini tornado' phenomenon may occur in next two weeks, says weatherman

OH CHIN ENG The Star 2 Nov 14;

ALOR SETAR: The mini tornado phenomenon may happen again in the country in the next two weeks, said National Weather Centre senior meteorological officer Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip.

Although the chances were slim, he said it was due to the inter monsoon season which usually brought along thunderstorm and heavy rain.

“Now we are nearing the end of the season before we enter the north-east monsoon in the next two weeks.

“I believe mini tornadoes will occur again but the strength will be weaker and less intense as the monsoon is ending,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On Friday evening, a twister hit Alor Setar, injuring at least two people and damaging 72 houses.

It was the second incident in Kedah after the first one which happened in Pendang on Oct 14.

Dr Mohd Hisham also said that based on the observation at the weather station in Sultan Abdul Halim Airport some 15km away from where the twister hit, it was believed that the mini tornado was spinning at a speed of 50kph to 80kph at a range of 20m wide in diameter.

“It was smaller than the one which hit Pendang, which was about 50m wide in diameter and moved at the speed of 150kph.”

Yesterday, the residents cleaned up their homes after Friday’s mini tornado, which blew away rooftops, uprooted trees and damaged houses in Kampung Mergong Hilir, Kampung Batin, Taman Mergong Jaya, Taman Inang and Kampung Sungai Baru.

Siti Nur Maisarah, 12, was speechless when she saw the mini tornado.

“All this while, I had only seen it on TV. But on Friday, I saw how the strong wind blew our roof away.

“When I ran out of my house, I saw the twister in a distance, with some objects flying right on top of it,” she said when met at Kampung Sungai Baru yesterday.

Describing it as “scary and huge”, Siti Nur said it was an unforgettable experience.

In Kampung Batin, lorry driver Azizan Abd Rani, 39, claimed he and his five-year-old son, whom he was carrying, were both sucked into the twister, before they landed in a padi field nearby.

“I was outside my house talking with my neighbours when I saw the tornado ripping off rooftops of houses about a kilometre away.

“I did not expect the twister to come towards my direction. Suddenly, I was blown into the padi field while my neighbours managed to cling on to some poles,” he recounted.

The Meteorological Department’s website said there would be thunderstorms in Kedah in the afternoon and night today.

Kedah landspout damages 72 homes

ALOR STAR: At least 72 houses in Mergong and Gunung Keriang here were damaged in a span of 15 seconds when a 30kph landspout unleashed its fury yesterday.

The incident comes two weeks after a tornado-like landspout struck a village in Pendang.

No injury was reported in the 4.50pm incident, but Kedahans have been warned that they could face unusual weather for the next two weeks because of monsoonal transition.

Meteorological Department commercial and corporate services division director Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip said the weather in the northern states had been active in the past couple of days and advised residents to be on high alert.

He said the department’s radar did not detect any formation of large storm cloud prior to yesterday’s incident, which meant that the landspout was a small but intense storm cloud.

The latest landspout, fortunately, did not hit the high-density areas between Taman Mergong Jaya and Taman Inang in Mergong and Kampung Sungai Baru in Gunung Keriang. If not, it could have caused more damage.

Two weeks ago, a number of houses and a school in Kampung Alor Besar, Pendang, were damaged when a tornado-like land spout created havoc following heavy rain and strong winds.

The residents described the phenomenon, which also left some homeless, as among the fiercest in recent years.

Mohd Saad Md Isa, 59, of Kampung Batin, Mergong, said he had never encountered such event.

“I was about to take a nap when I heard a loud thud on the roof.

“Within seconds, the wind ripped off the roof. I could only shout to my wife and grandchildren to seek shelter.”

His neighbour, Sudin Jaafar, 73, who had been living in the village for more than 50 years, said it was the worst disaster he had experienced in recent years.

“I was about to perform the Asar prayers when the wind slammed onto the roof of the porch and kitchen.

“I rushed out and was shocked to see the roof blown off. I was only concerned for my children’s safety.”

Page 1 pic: The landspout in Alor Star, Kedah, yesterday.

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Malaysia: Severe storms, floods show impact of climate change

New Straits Times 2 Nov 14;

IN the long term, climate change is inevitable in Malaysia because of the anthropogenic (caused by humans) increase in greenhouse gases.

The Meteorological Department said globally, rainfall patterns would generally change, with highly variable trends occurring over the tropical region.

It said some areas would receive an excess of rainfall while others would see a deficit, thus, affecting the availability of water.

“Weather-related natural hazards, including severe thunderstorms, rough seas, severe haze, floods, the rise in sea-levels, landslides, droughts and forest fires, are anticipated to increase.

“In Malaysia, severe storms, haze and floods depict the impact of climate change.

“Extremely wet conditions can lead to severe floods, landslides, as well as loss of properties or even lives, while extremely dry conditions will result in droughts, forest fires and crop failures, which lead to socio-economic disorders,” the department said.

The department added that the accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and income growth, threatened food security everywhere.

“Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change, as higher temperatures eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging weed and pest proliferation.

“Changes in precipitation patterns increase short-run crop failures and long-run decline in production.

“This can affect food production for the population in the developing world,” the department said.

Climate change also affected the quality of air, the safety of drinking water, the availibility of food and secure shelter, as well as health hazards like diarrhoea, malnutrition, malaria and dengue, the department said.

“However, no comprehensive study has been carried out to determine the severity of the effects of global warming and climate change in Malaysia,” it said.

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Indonesia to sell oxygen: Chief Minister

Antara 1 Nov 14;

Cilacap, Central Java (ANTARA News) - The new coordinating minister for maritime affairs, Indroyono Susilo, has said he plans to "sell" the oxygen that Indonesia produces to foreign countries.

"Indonesia produces a large amount of oxygen that people all over the world inhale because its three million hectares of mangrove forest is the largest in the world in addition to its seagrass, which is also the worlds largest. They all emit oxygen. This means, the world nations owe it to Indonesia for such a large supply of free oxygen," he said during a working visit to Cilacap, Central Java, on Saturday.

Indroyono made the statement in response to Cilacap district head Tatto Suwarto Pamudjis question about the future of mangrove forest in Segara Anakan Lagoon in the region that has now depleted from 32,000 hectares to 600 hectares due to sedimentation.

The minister called for continued maintenance of mangrove forests as they absorbed carbon dioxide and produced oxygen needed for breathing.

He said he would invite a team to calculate how many million cubic meter of carbon dioxide is absorbed by the mangrove forest in Cilacap and how many million cubic meter of oxygen does it produce.

"We will later sell it abroad. Countries must pay for it and the Cilacap district administration can use that income to maintain and expand the mangrove forest. That is our plan," he said.

Minister Indroyono observed that mangrove forests are great breeding grounds for fish. So, if they are in a good condition, fish can thrive below them.

According to him, mangrove fruits that are very nutritious could also be used as food and therefore he appealed to the people in the region to preserve the mangrove forest.

(Reporting by Sumarwoto/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

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U.N. talks of tough global climate targets, vague on national action

ALISTER DOYLE Reuters 31 Oct 14;

Oct 31 (Reuters) - - A draft U.N. guide for slowing climate change says world greenhouse gas emissions may have to fall to a net zero this century but is vague about what each nation should do now.

About 500 delegates, including scientists and government experts, are meeting in Copenhagen to edit the report, which is meant to guide policymakers in setting national goals for a global climate deal at a U.N. summit in Paris in late 2015.

The draft synthesis report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says rising world emissions will have to peak soon and then fall fast to limit risks of what could be "irreversible" damage.

"Somewhere after the middle of this century human-caused emissions will have to come down to a net zero," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, told Reuters.

"That in essence is going to design the arithmetic of national actions," he said of efforts to limit rising temperatures to avert desertification, mudslides, heatwaves, more powerful storms and rising sea levels.

Net zero means that any emissions, for instance from burning fossil fuels, would be balanced by other measures such as extracting carbon dioxide from the air and burying it.

The report indicates that net zero emissions would give a strong chance of achieving a U.N. goal of limiting a rise in average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above the temperatures in pre-industrial times.

Governments feel more comfortable setting long-term goals for the planet than targets for themselves. "No one wants to admit how much they will have to do," to meet the 2C target, said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.


On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leading scientists will issue the final synthesis. About 30 pages long, it will sum up three reports of more than 1,000 pages each issued since September 2013 about the science, impacts and solutions associated with climate change.

One chapter of the earlier reports indicates rich nations would have to halve their emissions by 2030 from current levels to get on track for 2C. Asian nations as a group would need to cap their soaring emissions around current levels by 2030.

Few governments are considering such tough goals.

Last week the European Union agreed a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. [ID:nL6N0SI6IK] President Barack Obama wants U.S. power plants to cut emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

China, the top emitter, has indicated it wants to cap its rising emissions, but has not said when or at what level.

"The main message for me from this report is the idea of going to zero" net emissions, said Niklas Hoehne of climate consultancy Ecofys, an IPCC author of studies looking at regional responsibility.

Since the IPCC issued its last set of reports in 2007, developing nations have often pointed to a chapter suggesting rich nations should cut emissions by between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, deeper than almost all cuts actually planned.

The IPCC says it is at least 95 percent sure that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than natural variations in the climate, are the main cause of warming since 1950.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Andrew Roche)

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