Best of our wild blogs: 25 Aug 15

29 Aug (Sat): 50% off Museum tickets for the Jubilee Whale Donation Drive
wild shores of singapore

The Grey-rumped Treeswifts of Bishan Park (Part 2)
Singapore Bird Group

Read more!

Singapore can do far more to encourage recycling

RICHARD HARTUNG Today Online 25 Aug 15;

The level of recycling has declined in Singapore, bucking the trend seen in other countries.

In Taiwan, for example, the household recycling rate has risen to 56 per cent. So much food waste is recycled that Taipei’s Department of Environmental Protection is building a biogas plant to turn it into electricity. Along with producing enough electricity for about 6,000 homes every year, the plant will eliminate more than 5,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

In the United Kingdom, the household recycling rate is also on an upward trajectory and now exceeds 44 per cent.

Here, in Singapore, domestic recycling dropped from 22 per cent to 19 per cent last year. With such a low rate of recycling, the National Environment Agency is expanding waste storage facilities at Semakau Island to handle all the trash.

Apart from causing a dilemma in finding a place to put everything, less recycling results in more methane and other gases that cause climate change.

Tactics to increase RECYCLING

Singapore needs to do far more to boost its recycling rate, both to improve the environment and to create new business opportunities, and this is an area where leading-edge practices from other countries can show the way.

In the United Kingdom, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ Waste Prevention Programme helps people save money and reduce waste.

For example, its Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund gives grants to people with creative ideas for preventing waste, and its Household Reward and Recognition Scheme encourages town councils to reward people who reduce or recycle their waste.

Public-private partnerships between global retailers, such as Coca-Cola or Unilever, and municipalities around the world have also resulted in successful campaigns to increase recycling.

Another tactic is to enhance the capabilities of recycling companies. In Hong Kong, the government announced earlier this year that it would introduce a Recycling Fund to upgrade the recycling industry and make sure companies have a reliable outlet for recycled materials.

A similar approach worked in Taiwan, where the government established a Recycling Fund in the late 1990s. The Fund uses recycling and disposal fees from manufacturers and importers to subsidise recycling and encourage the expansion of the recycling industry.

Taiwanese recycling firms now have revenues of more than US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion), said the Formosa Association of Resource Recycling. Daily household waste also dropped from 1.1kg to 0.43kg.

A third tactic to increase recycling is through legislation. One city at the forefront of recycling laws is Seattle, which requires all residents to sort their garbage and recycle food waste, whether they live in the smallest flat or the largest mansion. Home owners will be fined for not sorting their food waste, a step the city believes will increase recycling from 56 per cent to more than 60 per cent.

South Korea has a similar pay-as-you-throw programme, launched on a trial basis in 2005. The programme has spread to 95 per cent of municipalities so far and will be implemented nationally next year. Households are charged for the food they dispose of rather than recycle. As a result, food waste in Seoul alone has dropped by more than 22 per cent.

Japan has also used legislation to boost recycling. A Food Recycling Law increased food recycling to more than 80 per cent, for instance, and its Containers and Packaging Recycling Law increased plastic recycling above 77 per cent. One city, Kamikatsu, already recycles 80 per cent of its waste and is targeting 100 per cent by 2020.

Few concrete plans here

In contrast to the slew of recycling initiatives in other countries, there seem to be few concrete plans to increase recycling here.

The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, which has a somewhat low target of 30 per cent household recycling, vaguely says “We will work towards becoming a Zero-Waste Nation by reducing our consumption as well as reusing and recycling”.

Launched last year by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, the blueprint has few specifics other than dual chutes in Housing and Development Board estates and unspecified “new initiatives” for food waste.

Along with improving the environment, increasing recycling could enable Singapore to take a leading position in a growth industry and offer new business opportunities, similar to what is happening in Taiwan.

To achieve these objectives, it is essential to develop clear-cut policies and practices to increase recycling and reduce waste rather than simply repeating slogans.

Leveraging on education and rewards, similar to what companies and other countries have done, could be a start. Introducing regulations similar to those in Taiwan or Seattle could help achieve the objective. And funding to increase business capabilities in the industry could jump-start the growth of recycling businesses here.

It is easy to come up with slogans and sound bites about recycling. Yet that is not enough.

Since the trend of recycling is heading in the wrong direction, decisive action is needed for Singapore to regain the momentum that cleaned up the island decades ago, make the city-state a better place to live in, and enable the nation to take its place at the forefront of good environmental management.


Richard Hartung is a financial consultant who has lived in Singapore since 1992.

Read more!

NEA calls for tender for collecting, transporting food waste

The appointed organisations will collect food waste from places including food centres and schools, and bring the waste to a facility in Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant for treatment.
Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 15;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Monday (Aug 24) called a tender to collect and transport food waste to a facility for treatment, as part of a pilot project.

The appointed organisations will collect segregated food waste from areas such as the Clementi region and send it to a facility at Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant. The places where food waste will be collected from include Ngee Ann Polytechnic, National University of Singapore, Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre and Kranji Camp, said NEA.

The facility can treat up to 40 tonnes of food waste and used water sludge to produce biogas to generate energy. It can generate more biogas when the food waste and used water sludge are processed together, as compared to treating used water sludge alone, said NEA. If the pilot is successful, the process may be implemented at NEA’s future Integrated Waste Management Facility and PUB’s Tuas Water Reclamation Plant.

In addition, the company will be required to work with NEA to engage various premises to implement good practices in food waste segregation and collection, the agency said. The tender closes at 4pm on Oct 5, and the facility is expected to start receiving food waste in the first quarter of 2016.

The amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by 48 per cent over the past 10 years and is expected to rise further with a larger population and greater affluence, said NEA. Currently, spent yeast and grains from beer brewing as well as soya bean and bread waste are sold to recyclers to convert to animal feed.

The authorities are also conducting another pilot where stallholders and cleaners can process food waste or leftover food to water or compost using machines placed at hawker centres.

- CNA/xq

Read more!

192 hotspots detected in Sumatra: NEA

"Occasional hazy conditions" can be expected through Tuesday in Singapore, the National Environment Agency says.
Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 15;

SINGAPORE: Air quality is expected to be “in the high end of the Moderate range” given the 24-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) forecast over the next 24 hours, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Monday evening.

It noted that Singapore experienced occasional slightly hazy conditions in the afternoon. The three-hour PSI peaked at 91 in the afternoon, before falling to 82 at 7pm. The 24-hour PSI at 7pm was 70-76. This was due to prevailing winds blowing in haze from Sumatra, said NEA.

The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra more than doubled from 84 on Sunday to 192 on Monday, NEA said. "Smoke plumes were observed to emanate from some of the hotspots," the agency added.

Showers are expected on Tuesday afternoon, but Singapore could still see “occasional hazy conditions” if prevailing winds blow from the south, NEA added. It had earlier said the haze was caused by smoke from fires in Sumatra.

NEA said given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, "everyone can continue with normal activities".

The three-hour PSI reading peaked at 103 last Thursday, with a corresponding 24-hour PSI of 68-82. NEA said that a total of 132 hotspots were detected in Sumatra that day.

- CNA/xq

Read more!

Malaysia: Speed up talks to carry out cloud-seeding -- Khaled

The Star 25 Aug 15;

PASIR GUDANG: Johor is asking Putrajaya to speed up talks with Singapore to carry out cloud-seeding due to a drop in water levels at the Sungai Layang dam.

Mentri Besar Datuk Khaled Nordin said the island republic understood the problems faced by the people in Johor and had given the green light for the process.

“However, they (Singapore) want an official letter from the Federal Government,” he said.

“This matter will be done by the Government as the procedures require the involvement of both countries. I hope Putrajaya will expedite it,” Khaled said after a visit to the dam near Kong Kong here yesterday.

He said currently, the water level at the dam stood at 19m, which is below the critical 23.5m.

The dam supplies water to some 116,000 accounts throughout Pasir Gudang and certain parts of Johor Baru.

Khaled added that currently the authorities had to pump water from Sungai Johor to the Sungai Layang dam.

“The state government will also look into any development projects near the dam area and rivers to make sure the water supply would not be affected in the long term.”

He also said the weather had played a major factor which caused the water level at the dam to drop.

“We recorded less rainfall than last year,” Khaled said.

“The changing weather is a global phenomenon and Johor is not the only place affected by it.”

Read more!

Indonesia: Hot spots spring up again in Riau

Rizal Harahap, 24 Aug 15;

Riau has once again seen widespread hot spots erupt throughout the province. These hotspots have been almost completely extinguished during the last three days, causing more areas to be blanketed with thick smoke.

Based on data it has collected from the Terra and Aqua satellites, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Pekanbaru, Riau, said 18 hot spots had been detected in five regencies across the province on Monday. Indragiri Hulu had 11 hot spots, followed by Indragiri Hilir, Kuantan Singingi and Pelalawan which all reported two hot spots each. One hot spot was identified on the Meranti Islands.

“Analysis shows that 15 out of the 18 hot spots are fire spots. Ten fire spots are in Indragiri Hulu, followed by Kuantan Singingi and Pelalawan with two fire spots each, and a remaining single fire spot is in Indragiri Hilir,” said Slamet Riyadi, head of data and analysis at the BMKG Pekanbaru.

He said hot spots had grown significantly and spread evenly throughout areas in southern Sumatra. On Sunday morning, the satellites monitored only 18 hot spots in Sumatra, but the number jumped drastically within 24 hours, reaching 217 spots.

“Apart from Riau, Jambi is also detecting hot spots, and with 107 spots, it is the province with the highest number of hot spots in Sumatra. South Sumatra ranks second with 79 hot spots, followed by Bangka Belitung [10] and Lampung [3],” said Slamet.

He said hot spot fluctuations in Riau and in central and southern parts of Sumatra Island were heavily influenced by El Niño. By July, he said, the impact of El Niño had not yet been so clear. However, its influence would continue to increase as time went on. The weather would get hotter and drier so that land and forest fires could easily occur.

“Although it has not yet been too significant, El Niño has made the dry season in southern Riau stretch out for a longer period. Hot spots suspected as land and forest fires have continued to grow in the area,” said Slamet.

“Normally, by the end of August, most of the areas in Riau will have entered the rainy season. However, rainfall has not yet spread evenly this year. Rainfall has not yet spread evenly in the northern Riau areas, such as Dumai, Rokan Hilir and part of Bengkalis. The rain has fallen with only low to moderate intensity,” said Slamet. (edn/ebf)

Local authorities gear up for haze frenzy
Jon Afrizal and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 24 Aug 15;

Haze caused by land and forest fires blanketed a number of cities in Sumatra and Kalimantan over the past several days, forcing local authorities to initiate emergency responses such as setting up temporary health posts and shutting down schools in the worst-affected areas.

In Jambi, haze covered the provincial capital of Jambi city, West and East Tanjung Jabung regencies, as well as Muarojambi, causing health problems among the local people.

In response to the situation, East Tanjung Jabung Regent Zumi Zola asked for the deployment of paramedics and the establishment of health posts in Pematang Rahim subdistrict, Mendahara Hulu, one of the worst-affected areas in the regency.

He said schools in the subdistrict had also been temporarily shut down and masks had been distributed to local residents.

“They must not run out of masks. I have told Mendahara Hulu district head to directly coordinate with me if something is needed,” Zumi said.

Separately, West Tanjung Jabung Police’s water police unit chief First Insp. N Hutagalung said that his office had intensified water patrols to ensure the safety of local fishermen.

Meanwhile in Riau, haze was seen blanketing some parts of the province over the weekend although only one fire spot was identified in the province by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) Pekanbaru office.

BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin said that only one fire spot was detected in Siak Sri Indrapura district, Siak regency, with a reliability level of over 70 percent.

“This means that the fire is likely still happening,” Sugarin said.

Sugarin said the haze that had blanketed several areas, including the provincial capital of Pekanbaru, Pelalawan and Rengat regencies, had likely been brought from outside the region by the wind.

According to the BMKG, the levels of visibility in Pekanbaru, Pelalawan and Rengat on Sunday morning were recorded at distances of 1 kilometer, 2 kilometers and 3 kilometers respectively.

Many regions in Sumatra have been struggling to put out massive land and forest fires that emerged over the past few weeks due to this year’s prolonged dry season, which has been a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Fires on bushes in peatland in some locations on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, have also been blamed as the source of the haze that has blanketed the province over the past several days.

Pediatrician Ni Made Yuliandri, who also leads the city’s association of pediatricians, said there had been an increase in cases of upper respiratory infections among children as the haze worsened in Palangkaraya.

“Most children are having complaints of flu and cough accompanied by fever,” said Yuliandri.

Read more!

Malaysia: Stiffer penalties sought to combat haze, says Wan Junaidi

YU JI The Star 25 Aug 15;

KUCHING: The new Natural Re­­sources and Environment Minister is seeking a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart to address the region’s annual haze woes.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he would also seek to increase penalties within Malaysia and impose stricter enforcement.

Speaking to reporters here, Wan Junaidi admitted that more needed to be done and that the key was cooperation between countries.

“I have sought a meeting with the Environment Minister of Indo­nesia.

“We need to have a discussion on how we can overcome this problem of forests fires. I want to know what help we can give,” he said.

Air pollution worsened between Sunday and yesterday morning across Sarawak.

The worst hit was the township of Sri Aman, where the Air Pollutant Index (API) was the highest in the country at 129 around noon yesterday.

“The haze is from across the border. We are sure the hotspots are in Kalimantan, mostly in west and central Kalimantan.

“The hotspots are close to the border, but not within Sarawak.

“That is why it’s so bad in Sri Aman. The wind is pushing the smog up,” he said.

In Kuching, visibility was reduced to 1km on Sunday night, but improved slightly to 1.6km yesterday afternoon. Out of the 10 air quality stations in Sarawak, four recorded unhealthy readings of between 101 and 150.

The state Health Department said schools should limit outdoor activities and urged asthma sufferers to stay indoors as much as possible.

“If they go out, they should wear masks. Workers like those at construction sites should all wear masks,” said department director Datuk Dr Zulkifli Jantan.

Wan Junaidi added that unless there was a shift in wind direction, the haze could mostly remain “circulated” around Borneo.

He said September would be a critical month, as the dry season might not ease up.

On higher fines, Wan Junaidi said he was considering a scale and for the maximum fines handed by the courts to be higher as well.

The stronger deterrents would force industries to self regulate more, he said.

Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre’s statellite images showed seven hotspots within Borneo at noon yesterday, down from the 35 on Sunday and 85 last Friday.

Since Aug 18, the centre has categorised South-East Asia at Alert Level Two after lower than average rainfall was recorded starting in July.

Read more!

Malaysia: Sarawak’s haze situation improving

ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 25 Aug 15;

KUCHING: The rain must have swept away some dust particles this morning as the haze situation in Sarawak showed slight improvement today.

As at 7am, the three divisions in the southern part of the state, which had registered an unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API yesterday, recorded a moderate reading).

According to the Environment Department’s website, the API reading for Sri Aman, which was the worst affected division, has dropped from an unhealthy reading of 107 last night to a moderate level of 88.

The same trend was detected in Kuching and Samarahan where the API has dropped to 93 and 91respectively.

The two divisions recorded an unhealthy API reading of 105 and 108 respectively the day before.

Unhealthy air index recorded in several parts of Sarawak

New Straits Times 24 Aug 15;

KUCHING: Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman recorded unhealthy air, with a reading of the Air Pollutant Index (API) exceeding 100, as at 8 pm yesterday.

The Department of Environment (DOE), in its website, stated that Sarawak was the only state which recorded unhealthy air, with the API reading in Kuching at 107, while in Samarahan and Sri Aman at 120.

The air in Kuching recorded an API of 101 at 8am today and in Samarahan, the API was 108 at 6am.

Sri Aman recorded the highest API, at 120 at 6am and increased to 126 at 6pm, but improved slightly with an API reading of 120 an hour later.

An API reading at between 0 and 50 is good; 51 and 100 (moderate); 101 and 200 (unhealthy); 201 and 300 (very unhealthy); and more than 301 (hazardous).


Read more!

Malaysia: No floods expected in Terengganu and Kelantan -- Met Dept

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 24 Aug 15;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Allaying fears of rough seas and thunderstorms, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has denied such phenomenon is to strike the shores of peninsular Malaysia.

The ministry’s Malaysian Meteorology Department (MetMalaysia) only expects slightly rough seas of 1.5m high and intermittent rains in the afternoons throughout the east coast of the peninsular and other parts of it.

It also put to rest speculation of impending floods in the east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan as the year-end monsoon looms.

A MetMalaysia spokesman said that the El Nino warming of sea surface temperatures over the Pacific was, however, expected to increase from moderate to high from next month (September), according to the Malaysian Meteorology Department.

MetMalaysia’s National Climatic Centre predicts the situation to prolong throughout next year with increased readings exceeding 90 per cent.

The Oceanic Nino Index, she said, for May-June-July showed a one-degree Celsius increase and a two-degree Celsius rise for August this year.“This can have a spill-over effect towards the western Pacific and lead to slightly rough seas and storms.

“However, thus far, the region, including South East Asia is forecast to have intermittent rain in the afternoon in most parts of the country,” said said.

She added that for East Malaysia, Typhoon Goni and Atsani from the western Pacific affected Limbang and Miri in Sarawak, and Kudat and Labuan in Sabah.

“Typhoon Goni is moving northerly towards the Philippines and Taiwan, while Typhoon Atsani is heading towards southern Japan.

“Warnings have been issued to fishermen and operators of small boats,” she said.

State govt starts major mitigation projects after losing RM300mil last year
The Star 25 Aug 15;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government has embarked on nine major flood mitigation projects worth RM154mil after experiencing one of the worst floods last year, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

Apart from the nine, two other such projects – the building of water passages from Kampung Padang Bual mosque to Sungai Angga bridge in Besut and flood mitigation work in Taman Rakyat in Hulu Terengganu district – have been completed.

“The work we have done includes to deepen, widen and straighten the winding rivers which slowed down the flow of water into the sea,” he said yesterday.

Of the nine projects, three will be completed by December, three next year, two in 2017, and one in 2018.

The projects, said Ahmad Razif, would help cut floods in Terengganu by more than 70%.

Also included was the Chukai-Kemaman Phase Two flood mitigation project under the 11th Malaysia Plan, which costs more than RM340mil, he added.

“Each time there is a major flood, the state incurs losses amounting to millions of ringgit,” he said, adding that the state government lost RM304mil because of floods last year.

He said the state had to immediately implement the flood mitigation projects and not merely place it as a priority under the 11th Malaysia Plan, which will only start next year.

“There is definitely a need to give priority to flood mitigation projects in the state,” he added.

Read more!

Malaysia: Kelantan wildlife releases elephant into the wild


PASIR PUTIH: Rangers from Kelantan wildlife department today sent the female elephant caught at Kampung Jeram Lenang here, to the National Park.

The process to transfer the elephant named `Mek Lahar' took about three hours and involved 25 rangers, said state wildlife director Mohamad Khairi Ahmad.

He said Mek Lahar was escorted to the National Park by two trained elephants – Rambai and Abot and the cost to transfer the animal was estimated more than RM20,000.

"The elephant was caught on Aug 19 after it damaged plants belonging to villagers in Kampung Jeram Lenang and it was the second caught by the department this year in the area," he said.

Read more!

Malaysia: ‘Stop buying animal-based goods’

The Star 25 Aug 15;

PETALING JAYA: Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have urged people not to buy animal-based products, particularly those from endangered or protected species.

This follows the shocking news that the Sumatran rhino has been deemed extinct in Malaysia due to habitat destruction and being poached for its horn, according to a study by several experts including Dr Junaidi Payne of the Borneo Rhino Alliance.

Malaysian Chinese Medical Association secretary-general Heng Aik Teng said people should not buy endangered animal parts for health reasons.

“Just replace it with other medicines. The animal is endangered so people shouldn’t buy anything to do with it. I advise them to use other, legal alternatives. Don’t break the law,” he said.

The Federation of Chinese Physicians and Acupuncturists Association Malaysia president Prof Ng Po Kok said customers should only buy medicines from reputable shops that did not deal with black market trade.

“We must protect animals and other endangered species. So many herbs have the same supposed value and benefits of animal-based medicines. Herbs are functional and with them there is no need to use animal organs or parts,” he said.

Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Rasid Samsudin said the department was trying to work with Indonesia, which has an estimated 100 individual rhinos left in the wild.

“In Sabah we are also trying to get the three rhinos kept in parks to breed. But there is certainly a possibility of reviving the population if we work together in a cross-boun­dary effort,” he said.

Read more!

Indonesia: Honey Hunters May Be to Blame for Central Java Forest Fire, Minister Saysi

Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 15;

Jakarta. Honey-harvesting activities by local farmers could be behind a massive forest fire that has ravaged the forested slopes of Central Java’s Mount Lawu volcano since Saturday, officials say.

“The fire started at 8 p.m. on Saturday … on the north face of Lawu,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Tuesday as quoted by

She added the area was a popular among locals looking to harvest honey, a practice that involves setting fires to smoke bees out of their hives in order to get at the honey.

Siti said it was likely that a prolonged dry spell and high temperatures had allowed the fires to spread out of control.

Officials estimate that 70 hectares of forest have been burned down since the fire started, with firefighters still struggling to put out the blaze.

“Forestry officials and local volunteers have been trying to contain the fire. They have also created a fire line to stop the fire from spreading,” Siti said.

Straddling the border between Central and East Java, the region around Lawu and the adjacent Mount Merbabu are prone to forest fires, particularly during the dry season.

Strong winds and unseasonably high temperatures brought on by El Niño have exacerbated the problem this year, officials say.

Six fires have been detected since the start of this month, all but one of which have since been put out.

A five-day blaze on the slopes of Merbabu last week destroyed 90 hectares of forest before it was finally doused on Sunday.

As of Tuesday, both volcanoes remain closed to hikers and other visitors.

Read more!

Rescued pig-tailed macaque rehomed in Malaysia

The endangered monkey was rescued from a car workshop in Defu Lane in May after a tip-off from ACRES.
Channel NewsAsia 24 Aug 15;

SINGAPORE: A rare pig-tailed macaque found chained in a cage in a car workshop this year been sent to a new home in Malaysia.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) rescued the monkey from the workshop in Defu Lane on May 6, following a tip-off from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES). Its owner claimed the animal was abandoned there and proceeded to keep it as a pet illegally. He was later fined S$500.

In a joint news release on Monday (Aug 24), AVA, ACRES and Wildlife Reserves Singapore said they worked with Malaysian wildlife authorities to rehome the macaque.

On Sunday, it was transported from the Singapore Zoo to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN Negeri Johor), where it is being rehabilitated and quarantined. Authorities will assess its suitability to be released back into its natural habitat.

All macaques are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement to help prevent extinction of wildlife species.

AVA stated: “Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, possession of a CITES animal which has been imported without a permit is an offence. It is also a violation of the Wild Animal & Birds Act to keep a wild animal without a licence from AVA."

Offenders could be fined up to S$50,000 per species and be jailed for up to two years. They could also be fined up to S$1,000 per wild animal or bird.

- CNA/dl

Endangered pig-tailed macaque rehomed in Malaysia after rescue from Singapore car workshop
Today Online 14 Aug 15;

SINGAPORE — An endangered pig-tailed macaque rescued from a car workshop in Singapore has been rehomed in Malaysia.

The macaque was found chained in a cage at a Defu Lane car workshop on May 6 by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), following a tip-off from the Animals Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES).

It was then sent to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) for care and custody. The owner of the workshop, who had kept the macaque as a pet after it was found abandoned at his workshop, was fined S$500 by AVA for keeping the macaque.

Yesterday (Aug 23), the macaque was transported from the Singapore Zoo to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Malaysia. It is currently being rehabilitated and quarantined at a Wildlife Rescue Centre, following which the authorities will assess its suitability to be released back into the wild, said ACRES, AVA and WRS in a joint statement today.

“AVA would like to remind the public not to import or keep wild animals, as doing so would perpetuate the exploitation of wild animals and fuel the growth of the illegal wildlife trade,” said the joint statement.

Ms Lye Fong Keng, Deputy Director, Quarantine & Inspection Group (Wildlife Section), AVA, said that wild animals are not suitable as pets because they may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and pose a public safety risk if they escape into the Republic’s dense environment.

“Wild animals that are nonnative to Singapore may also pose a threat to our biodiversity by upsetting the ecological balance of nature,” said Ms Lye.

All macaques are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is an international agreement to ensure that trade does not threaten wildlife species with extinction. The import and export of the pig-tailed macaque is regulated by CITES permits.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, possession of a CITES animal which has been imported without a permit is an offence. The offender may be fined up to S$50,000 per scheduled species (not exceeding an aggregate of S$500,000) and/or jailed up to two years.

It is also a violation of the Wild Animal & Birds Act to keep a wild animal without a licence from AVA. Offenders may be fined up to S$1,000 per wild animal or bird. The illegally acquired animals would be confiscated and forfeited by AVA.

Read more!

Kyoto protocol's carbon credit scheme ‘increased emissions by 600m tonnes’

Major UNFCCC carbon trading scheme hit by serious corruption allegations involving organised crime in Russia and Ukraine
Arthur Neslen The Guardian 24 Aug 15;

A key carbon offsetting scheme was so open to abuse that three quarters of its allowances lacked environmental integrity, a new report says.

UN officials confirm the findings by the Stockholm Environment Institute that around 600m tonnes of carbon were wrongly emitted as a result, under the UNFCCC’s Joint Implementation (JI) scheme.

An estimated 80% of JI projects were of low environmental quality, according to the paper which was published today in Nature Climate Change.

“Many of them didn’t observe the requirements of JI on ‘additionality’ as they would probably have happened anyway, and I would even doubt the physical existence of some of these projects,” said Vladyslav Zhezherin, one of the report’s authors. “I would say that many of them were fake.”

A senior UN official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Guardian that the new report was “thoroughly researched and probably correct.”

JI had been beset by “significant criminal energy” in Russia and Ukraine, after the EU banned the trading of credits from an industrial gas scam on the Emissions Trading System (ETS) from April 2013, he explained. This led to a flood of what he called “almost completely bogus” credits in 2012.

“It was an outstretched middle finger to the EU saying ‘You’re shutting out our credits, we’re flooding your markets,’ a mix of retaliation and crime,” he said.

Another source with regulatory experience in Ukraine’s JI market told the Guardian that, as the 2000s dragged on, JI increasingly came to be seen by market participants there as “a corruption mechanism.”

“The approval of projects stopped depending on their quality but rather on connections and side payments,” he said. To gain official approval for registration under the JI scheme, Ukrainian market participants often had to transfer ERUs to a limited number of intermediary companies in Switzerland, the source alleged.

Russia and Ukraine were the two biggest beneficiaries of the JI system, which allowed them to trade emissions reductions units (ERUs) ‘proving’ that carbon cuts had been made, for assigned amount units (AAUs) from rich world polluters, in the exotic lexicon of carbon trading.

But under the scheme’s ‘Track 1’ – which covered around 97% of projects – states only needed to verify reductions between themselves, without any UNFCCC oversight.

The eastern countries had been over-supplied with credits after the fall of the Soviet Union – but before its subsequent industrial collapse. They were also smarting at the withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol of their presumed main buyer, the USA.

A decision to flood the EU’s carbon market with dud credits “was partly because of hurt feelings from having had no proper compensation,” the UN source said.

He added: “This is what happens if you give free resources, or install a subsidy-like mechanism without proper oversight in failing states, or countries with significant corrupt structures.”

The issue may well be discussed at climate talks in Paris, where the EU is pushing for oversight of future market-based mechanisms to be take out of the UNFCCC’s hands.

The UN body is believed to prefer a reformed version of the scheme’s ‘Track 2’, for which it has oversight.

Anja Kollmuss, another of the study’s authors, said the implications of the story for the EU emissions trading system (ETS) would be profound. “Almost two-thirds of JI credits were used in the ETS, so the poor overall quality of JI projects may have undermined the EU’s emission reduction target by some 400 million tonnes of CO2, about a third of the reductions required by the ETS from 2013 to 2020,” she said.

More than a quarter of JI carbon credits went to projects to staunch the spontaneous ignition of coal piles, mostly in Ukraine. The country’s estimate that such waste piles produced roughly 30% of its coal was “highly unrealistic” and probably led to substantial over-crediting, the report says.

The report found that only one of the six major project types in the JI system reduced emissions by more than would have happened anyway. This covered N20 abatement from nitric acid production, and was also the only project-type correctly supplied with ERUs.

JI is one of the three carbon offsetting schemes accredited by the Kyoto protocol – along with emissions trading and the clean development mechanism. It allowed some 872m ERUs to be issued by ex-Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries, accounting for around a third of UN-accredited emissions allowances.

Carbon credits undercut climate change actions says report
Matt McGrath BBC News 25 Aug 15;

The vast majority of carbon credits generated by Russia and Ukraine did not represent cuts in emissions, according to a new study.

The authors say that offsets created under a UN scheme "significantly undermined" efforts to tackle climate change.

The credits may have increased emissions by 600 million tonnes.

In some projects, chemicals known to warm the climate were created and then destroyed to claim cash.

As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production.

Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to see those credits to the European Union's carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, "hot air" - no actual emissions were reduced.

They looked at a random sample of 60 projects and found that 73% of the offsets generated didn't meet the key criteria of "additionality". This means that these projects would have happened anyway without any carbon credit finance.

"Some early projects were of good quality, but in 2011-2012, numerous projects were registered in Ukraine and Russia which had started long before and were clearly not motivated by carbon credits," said Vladyslav Zhezherin, a co-author of the study.

"This was like printing money."

According to the review, the vast majority of the offset credits went into the European Union's flagship Emissions Trading Scheme. The authors estimate these may have undermined EU emissions reduction targets by 400 million tonnes of CO2, worth over $2bn at current market prices.

Unlike the Russian and Ukrainian projects, similar offsetting plans in Poland and Germany were said to meet very strict criteria.

"We were surprised ourselves by the extent, we didn't expect such a large number," co-author Anja Kollmuss told BBC News.

"What went on was that these countries could approve these projects by themselves there was no international oversight, in particular Russia and the Ukraine didn't have any incentive to guarantee the quality of these credits."

Because Germany and Poland had tougher emissions targets to meet, they were very careful with their certificates. This wasn't the case in Russia and the Ukraine.

One part of the larger review has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

It concerns the activities of projects that made money from the removal of chemicals HFC-23 and sulphur hexafluoride, which add significantly to global warming.

They found that, in 2011, all three projects in the study significantly and simultaneously ramped up the amount of the chemicals they were destroying.

"As researchers we can not prove the fraud, we can just point to the facts so in the HFC case at the moment when they could gain credits they immediately increased production of this greenhouse gas in order to destroy them, and that lead to them getting many more credits than if they had produced it like they did before," said Anja Kollmuss.

Experts familiar with the Russian carbon projects said that there had been longstanding and well acknowledged issues with the destruction of chemicals for carbon credits.

This had been seen in China for several years.

Michael Yulkin, from Russia's Environmental Investment Centre rejected the idea that many of these Eastern projects broke the rules.

"That's just not true," he told BBC News.

"All the projects have been validated and the additionality has been proved - it was all following the rules and if the rules allowed them to be in, so you have them in."

Mr Yulkin pointed out that the projects were no longer an issue. The EU emissions trading scheme no longer accepted the credits - and Russia was not taking part in the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The authors of the study argue that lessons must be learned for any future market mechanisms that are incorporated into a new global agreement on climate change, expected to be signed later this year at a conference in Paris.

"In future, we need to do better and we can do better, but the devil will be in the detail and tighter controls will be needed," said James Wilde from the Carbon Trust.

"If firms are to invest at scale driven by a price for carbon, they need to know that the schemes setting this price in future will be robust and survive for the lifetime of investments."

Read more!