Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jun 15

Sighting of Pin-tailed Whydah Juveniles
Bird Ecology Study Group

SG50 Green List – Singapore Green Landscape 2015
Green Future Solutions

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Fire reported at Pulau Ubin

Leong Wai Kit, News 5 Tonight Channel NewsAsia 25 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE: The fire that broke out at Pulau Ubin on Wednesday (Jun 24) has been extinguished, confirmed the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Thursday.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the fire was raging from as early as 9.15pm, and was estimated to be covering an area twice the size of a football field.

At least 10 officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived at Pulau Ubin, where they were escorted by Police Coast Guard to the fire site near Ketam Bike Trail.

By around midnight on Thursday, the fire had been put out, said the police. According to an SCDF statement issued at about the same time, it had received a call for assistance at 9.18pm and had deployed a fire engine, a Red Rhino and one special vehicle to the site. There, the authorities discovered a piece of vegetation had caught fire, which was later put out using four canvas beaters and a bucket of water.

No injuries were reported and no evacuation had to be done, said SCDF, adding that investigations are still ongoing.

Outward Bound Singapore (OBS), which has a facility on the island, also posted a message on Facebook to assure "concerned parents and members of the public that none of (their) OBS participants and staff (were) affected by the fire".

- CNA/hs

Bush fire breaks out on Pulau Ubin bike trail
ROYSTON SIM The Straits Times 25 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE - A bush fire that spanned about two football fields broke out at a bike trail on Pulau Ubin on Wednesday (June 24) night.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force received a call at 9.18pm, and dispatched one fire engine, one red rhino and one special vehicle to Ketam bike trail on Pulau Ubin.

An SCDF spokesman said the flames were extinguished with four canvass beaters and buckets of water. No one on the island had to be evacuated, nor were there injuries due to the blaze.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

SCDF puts out bush fire on Ubin
Amelia Teng Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 15;

A BUSH fire that broke out near a cycling trail on Pulau Ubin on Wednesday night was put out within two hours.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) received a call at 9.20pm about the fire near the Ketam bike trail.

Ten firefighters and their equipment were conveyed to Pulau Ubin by a Police Coast Guard (PCG) boat from the coast guard's Loyang Base, and arrived at the site of the blaze using various vehicles from the PCG and the National Parks Board.

An SCDF spokesman said there were pockets of fire in an area the size of about two football fields.

The fire was extinguished by 11.30pm. No one was hurt or had to be evacuated.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Outward Bound Singapore (OBS), which has a facility on the island, assured parents and other members of the public on its Facebook page that none of the OBS participants or staff were affected by the fire.

The Ketam trail, which winds about 8km around Ketam Quarry, attracts about 300 cyclists every weekend, according to a Straits Times report in 2013.

Completed in 2007, it is the first trail in Singapore to meet international standards for mountain biking competitions, which include trail safety, planning and design.

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Malaysia: Dry spell in Sabah and Sarawak

YU JI The Star 25 Jun 15;

KUCHING: Sabah and Sarawak have recorded the third highest cumulative hotspot counts this year compared to the same period annually since 2006.

A total of 559 hotspots have been detected in Sabah and Sarawak, although last year, which was the highest, the cumulative count was at about 800 hotspots.

Since the weekend, a slight haze has returned to Sarawak, and the Malaysian Meteorological Department is predicting drier weather ahead.

In its long-range outlook, Sarawak’s south and central regions could receive between 20% and 40% fewer rainfall at just 120mm to 170mm this month, while areas such as Sarikei, a semi-rural town in the state where clear blue skies are the norm, have started recording air quality index (API) readings of around 60 since Sunday.

In Kuching, the horizontal visibility was reduced briefly to 6km on Monday.

“Drier weather conditions are expected over Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Mukah, Sarikei, Sibu, Kapit and Bintulu divisions,” said the department’s seasonal prediction for June to November.

Over in Sabah, Sandakan and Kudat could experience similar dry weather, the report said.

“Based on a combination of information, most of the models show that weather activities are concentrated in the Central Pacific. This condition is consistent with the presence of weak El Nino in the Tropical Pacific belt,” it added.

Meanwhile, according to the Fine Fuel Moisture Code, which indicates the relative ease of ignition and flammability of fine fuels, about half of Sarawak and most of Sabah were at the highest “extreme” reading on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Bhd, the state’s electricity company, said consumption increased tremendously by about 90MW every hot season, and the power was enough to light up nine middle-sized towns.

Peak hours are between 3pm and 5pm when the heat causes consumers to set air-conditioners at full blast.

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China puts $6 trillion price tag on its climate plan

Valerie Volcovici and David Brunnstrom PlanetArk 24 Jun 15;

It will cost China over $6.6 trillion (41 trillion yuan) to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals it will lay out later this month in its strategy for United Nations climate negotiations, the country's lead negotiator for the talks said Tuesday.

Xie Zhenhua, special representative for climate change affairs at China's National Development and Reform Commission, said the objectives China will outline by the end of June will be "quite ambitious".

Xie was participating in a three-day Strategic and Economic Dialogue forum in Washington where he met with counterparts in the Obama administration, including U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

To meet its objectives, China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, must reconfigure its coal-dependent energy mix and develop new energy sources, Xie said.

"We will need to carry out international cooperation and research and development to reduce the costs of relevant technologies and to innovate so that we can reach our objectives," he told reporters at a State Department briefing.

The United States and China announced on Monday they will partner on two new carbon-capture, utilization and storage projects to help commercialize the technology.

While key details of China's plan are not yet known, it is expected to include targets announced in November, when it reached a key climate change deal with Washington to cap its emissions by 2030 and fill 20 percent of its energy needs from zero-carbon sources.

Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the government's commitment to hit a carbon emissions peak by "around 2030". The country's coal consumption decreased for the first time in years in 2014, however, leading some to speculate that its emissions could reach their peak sooner.

Stern, the U.S. climate change envoy, told reporters the plans China has already announced with Washington were "a quite strong contribution".

But he said he hopes a final agreement of all countries at this December's key UN climate change conference in Paris contains "a strong set of...contributions, which are updated periodically" to ensure more ambitious targets.

Stern said China does not expect public finance to support its climate goals and that it is likely to attract investment as it adopts new technologies.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang told a panel moderated by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that 750,000 electric vehicles were sold in China last year, three times more than the year before, "giving great opportunities and profit to companies like Tesla (TSLA.O) and BYD (Auto) (0285.HK)".

"To tackle climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity," Wang said.

Ahead of the UN's climate change conference in Paris, countries are required to submit national plans, which will serve as the building blocks of a final agreement.

So far, 11 countries, including the United States and Mexico, as well as the European Union have submitted theirs.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)

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