Best of our wild blogs: 26 Oct 17

3 Nov (Fri): Birds, Humans and Our Sustainable Future
wild shores of singapore

8 Nov: Green Jobs Symposium & Networking 2017
Green Drinks Singapore

Read more!

Recent hazy conditions due to accumulation of particle matter; low chance of transboundary haze, says NEA

Lee Min Kok Straits Times 26 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - The recent hazy conditions here are due to accumulated particle matter under light winds, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

NEA, which issues daily updates on the haze situation, first warned that Singapore may experience "slightly hazy conditions in the morning" last Tuesday (Oct 17).

Since then, haze-like conditions have been reported in certain areas over the past week. Photos taken by The Straits Times on Wednesday evening from the Marina Bay area showed hazy skies.

According to NEA, however, the likelihood of the country being affected by transboundary haze remains low.

"There were eight hot spots detected in southern Sumatra, and no visible smoke plume or haze was observed," NEA said in its last update on Wednesday.

The hourly concentration readings for PM2.5 - tiny pollutant particles associated with haze - for the next 24 hours are expected to stay in the normal range.

Hazy conditions were also experienced in the first week of October, prompting fears that fires were once again burning in the region.

However, air-quality experts whom The Straits Times spoke to clarified that it was not transboundary haze. They instead attributed the conditions to the concentration of particle vapour and local emissions from cars and factories.

While such particles usually disperse on their own, cloudy conditions and little wind could have caused certain areas to appear hazy.

Slight haze over parts of the island
Straits Times 27 Oct 17;

The recent hazy conditions in Singapore are due to accumulated particle matter under light winds, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

NEA, which issues daily updates on the haze situation, first warned that Singapore may experience "slightly hazy conditions in the morning" on Tuesday last week.

Since then, haze-like conditions have been reported in certain areas.

Photos taken by The Straits Times on Wednesday evening from the Marina Bay area showed hazy skies.

According to NEA, however, the likelihood of the country being affected by transboundary haze remains low.

"There were eight hot spots detected in southern Sumatra, and no visible smoke plume or haze was observed," NEA said in its last update on Wednesday.

The hourly concentration readings for PM2.5 - tiny pollutant particles associated with haze - for the next 24 hours are expected to stay within the normal range.

As of 9am yesterday, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index was in the moderate range.

Read more!

Sembcorp to build solar systems to power hangar facilities at Changi, Seletar

SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Energy solutions provider Sembcorp Industries will be developing two solar energy systems to help ST Aerospace power its operations at two facilities.

A subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering), ST Aerospace operates hangar facilities at Changi, Seletar and Paya Lebar airports to service, repair and overhaul aircrafts.

The new systems, which will be tied to a utility power grid, are to be placed on the rooftops of its Changi and Seletar facilities. They will have a combined capacity of 4.1 megawatts and will directly supply renewable power to the facilities — enough to meet about 40 per cent of their needs on an average day.

Construction for both rooftop solar systems would begin this month, Sembcorp said in a press release on Wednesday (Oct 25). The system at Changi is expected to be completed by February next year, while the one at Seletar will be ready in April next year.

Both systems — to be owned, operated and maintained by Sembcorp — cost about S$5.4 million, which would be “funded internally”, it added.

This is Sembcorp’s second rooftop solar energy deal with clients from Singapore’s aerospace and aviation industry. Its first was to provide similar systems at two airfreight terminals near Changi Airport.

Outside of the industry, it also has two other such projects with Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore in Tuas, and Stolthaven Singapore, a warehousing and storage services provider, on Jurong Island. SIAU MING EN

Read more!

‘No evidence’ carbon tax drives companies away

SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Despite concerns repeatedly voiced that a carbon tax could dent competitiveness, there is no evidence it has led any company to move out of a country, said a panellist at a Singapore International Energy Week discussion on Wednesday (Oct 25).

Forty-seven countries and states today have some form of carbon pricing, such as a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. Prices range from US$1 to US$140 per tonne of emissions, noted World Bank senior carbon finance specialist Wang Xueman.

Asked at a panel discussion on carbon tax if Singapore’s decision to impose a carbon tax from 2019 – announced earlier this year – could hurt its competitiveness, Ms Wang said: “Currently, if you look at all the evidence, the industry does not move away because there is carbon pricing. They move away because of many other… considerations.”

Singapore is looking to charge large emitters such as power stations between S$10 and S$20 per tonne of greenhouse gases emitted. In the wake of the announcement in February, Tuas Power had said companies would not be able to absorb the tax. If passed on to households, electricity prices could increase by 0.43 to 0.86 cents per kilowatt hour, a fraction of current tariff rates -- although observers cautined there should not be a disproportionate impact on the poor.

Major oil and gas players Shell and ExxonMobil said they supported the move.

Panellists at Wednesday’s session, attended by head honchos of some energy firms, said a carbon tax should be high enough to spur a change in behaviour and should factor in the cost of existing assets. This is because a change of assets in the energy business entail a “huge investment”, said Mr Philippe Joubert, executive chairman the Global Electricity Initiative, which consists of utilities companies from around the world.

Taxing the high emitters is also a “matter of fairness”, he said. “The fact that carbon has no price doesn’t mean that it has no cost. The only difference is we are sending the bill to the next generation.”

Industry players and investors should be given time to understand and adjust to policy changes and minimise the costs passed on to consumers, said another panellist, Frontier Economics managing director Danny Price.

Australia introduced a carbon tax in 2011 but scrapped it after three years and Mr Price said investors were unable to respond to the rapid policy changes.

But a switch to clean energy such as solar also exacts an environmental cost, noted Associate Professor Loh Wai Lam of the National University of Singapore’s mechanical engineering department, who specialises in offshore oil and gas technology. Energy storage is a key ingredient for solar energy adoption and rare metals such a lithium are needed in the production of batteries – an area in which technology is still developing, he said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Melaka safe from scorching heat wave, water supply adequate, says Idris Haron

Kelly Koh New Straits Times 25 Oct 17;

MELAKA: As locals continue to brave the scorching heat wave, which the Malaysian Meteorological Department had said was the side effect of Typhoon Lan, there is however no fear of possible water shortage in the stage.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said water level at all three dams in the state are at a safe level and remain under close supervision of the Melaka Regulatory Body and relevant agencies.

“At the moment, water level at all the three dams is under control. They are still at a safe level and is far from reaching the drought alert,” he told a press conference after chairing the state executive council meeting at Seri Negeri Wednesday.

As of 9.43am today, Idris said water level at the Durian Tunggal dam was at 88.2 per cent, while the Jus dam and the Asahan dam were at 95.2 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively.

“Water level at all the dams us above critical level and adequate, so there is no need for panic,” he said.

He added that compared to the previous year with the El Nino phenomenon, it was worse because there the water level at the Jus dam went down to below 50 per cent.

“We were worried because during the same period last year, water level at Jus dam was only at 48 per cent.

“This time, there have been mechanisms to have water pumped back to the dams to ensure adequate supply,” he said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Fruits from Camerons rejected

martin carvalho, hemananthani sivanandam, loshana k. shagar, and rahmah ghazali The Star 26 Oct 17;

CAMERON Highlands was identified as an area where living modified organism (LMO) was detected in fruits meant for export.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the incident came to light after the authorities were alerted by their counterparts in China.

“There was a case where fruits from Cameron Highlands were exported to China. Checks were conducted and the fruits were rejected as they were found to be LMO products,” he said to a question from Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong).

Common LMOs include agricultural crops that have been genetically modified for greater productivity or for resistance to pests or diseases.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the National Biosafety Board took note of the incident and ordered the fruit trees not to be planted anymore.

He said the board also kept close tabs on the entry of LMO products into the country.

“There are 47 institutions that have their own committees on LMO and report back to the board to ensure they adhere to guidelines,” he added.

He said the board would give approval if the LMO products imported have low risk to health and environment.

He said that LMO products imported into the country include seeds, animal feed and rice.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the Genetically Modified Advisory Body under the board was responsible for assessing LMO risks.

Living modified organisms to be scrutinised before entry into Malaysian market

KUALA LUMPUR: Imported living modified organism (LMO) products must be approved by the National Biosafety Board (NBB) before they are allowed in Malaysian markets.

Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told the Dewan Rakyat that the products must go through a biosafety analysis to ensure that the risks from the biotechnology application would be at an acceptable level.

"NBB will only approve low-risk LMO (products) which are verified safe in terms of its impacts on human and animal health as well as the ecocsystem and biodiversity.

"A guideline on processing the application of LMO products has been in place under the Biosafety Act 2007 whereby only approved products will be allowed in the country's environment," he said during an oral question session today.

LMOs are defined as any living organism that has a combination of genetic material obtained through modern biotechnology. Modern biotechnology enables gene-transferrals between different organisms.

Wan Junaidi said the Genetically Modified Advisory Committee (GMAC) which consistst of NBB-appointed experts from multiple fields would carry out the risk-evaluation process.

"The evaluation process will take into account seven factors including toxicity, allergens, the possibility of antiobiotic resistaant gene transfer in digestive tract, nutrition content, pathogenic potential and gene donor organism," he said on LMO's possible risks to humans.

Read more!

Indonesia Needs to Put More Investments for Flood Management

Netral News 25 Oct 17;

Study conducted by Grundfos and Research of Eco-Business on investments to manage floods.
JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Approximately 86 percent of cross-sectional sustainability practitioners in Indonesia believe extreme weather and climate change can have a significant impact on the country's economy.

The statement is the result of a study conducted by global leaders in pumping solutions, Grundfos, and Research from Eco-Business, a sustainability-focused social company, entitled 'Flood Controls in Southeast Asia'. The study surveyed 417 sustainability industry leaders in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Climate change and rising global temperatures are expected to have an impact on sea level and rainfall intensity, creating serious problems for the tropics such as Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.

Based on the report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2070, major cities in Indonesia, such as Jakarta, Palembang, Surabaya and Makassar are projected to lose assets totaling $453 billion caused by bad weather such as floods where Jakarta itself is estimated to experience a loss of $321 billion.

The results also reinforce the data by stating that 60 percent of respondents believe Indonesia will face far more extreme weather and climate conditions in the next decade.

A total of 46-48 percent of respondents also feel that Indonesia has not effectively equip itself to face climate change nor allocate adequate resources and funding to reduce the threat of the disaster.

Tim Hill, Research Director at Eco-Business Research, said, "According to the respondents, average temperatures and rainfall have increased in Indonesia and they feel that the rainy and dry seasons are less predictable."

"While the Government of Indonesia is implementing various flood mitigation solutions, respondents feel there is a need for more resources and funds to invest in this area. Increasing public participation is also needed, especially in land acquisition and environmental management."

Respondents also suggested geographical border collaborations with neighboring countries because climate change risks are also faced by most countries in Southeast Asia.

Read more!

Indonesia: Satellites detect 15 hotspots in West Sumatra

Antara 25 Oct 17;

Padang, West Sumatra (ANTARA News) - A total of 15 hotspots were detected in West Sumatra Province on Wednesday, according to an official.

Based on monitoring by the Terra and Aqua satellites, the hotspots were detected in the sub-districts of Kapur IX and Harau in Limapuluh Kota District and the sub-districts of Sangir Batang Hari and Sangir Balai Janggo in South Solok District, among others, Budi Samiadji of the Ketaping meteorology, climatology, and geophysics office remarked here, Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in Aceh Province, at least 60 hotspots indicating wildfires were detected in Aceh Province on Tuesday, according to the local meteorology, climatology, and geophysics office (BMKG).

"This morning, the number of hotspots has jumped to 60, from 16 hotspots in the previous day," Zakaria, an official of the Blang Bintang BMKG, stated.

The hotspots were found in 12 districts and towns in the westernmost province.

Nagan Raya District had 16 hotspots comprising 12 in the Darul Makmur Sub-district and four in Kuala.

In West Aceh, 15 hotspots were detected comprising eight in the Johan Pahlawan Sub-district, four in Sama Tiga, two in Kaway Enam Belas, and one in Arongan Lambaek.

A total of 10 hotspots were detected in Central Aceh, notably four in Atu Lintang, three in Laut Tawar, two in Linge, and one in the Jagong Jeget Sub-district.

Southwest Aceh, South Aceh, and Gayo Lues had four hotspots each.

The district of Bireuen had two hotspots, while Aceh Singkil, North Aceh, Southeast Aceh, Bener Meriah, and Sulubussalam had one hotspot each.

Read more!

Indonesia: Thousands of Wonogiri residents face food shortage due to drought

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 25 Oct 17;

More than 10,000 residents of two districts in Wonogiri, Central Java, are suffering from a severe food crisis due to prolonged drought in the areas.

Although the rainy season in the regency has begun, rain has not yet fallen in the districts of Kismantoro and Paranggupito since June.

The total number of Wonogiri residents who suffer from food shortages has reached 10,780, comprising 2,695 households.

Wonogiri regent Joko Sutopo said the food shortages were not only because of the drought but also because many people in the regency lived under the poverty line.

“The Wonogiri administration has sent a letter to the Central Java governor [Ganjar Pranowo] asking for rice aid for those affected by the food shortages,” said Joko on Monday.

Of the total, 694 households are from Kismantoro subdistrict while 600 others are from Ngroto village. Meanwhile, 487 households are from Paranggupito village while 462 and 452 others are from Ketos and Songbledek villages, respectively.

Wonogiri Agriculture and Food Agency (Dispertan) head Safuan said his institution needed 37.7 tons of rice to help five villages in the two districts, which are prone to food shortages.

He said that in the first stage of rice aid delivery for the drought this year, Dispertan had provided 7.4 tons of rice for Gesing and Lemahabang villages in Kismantoro.

In the second stage of the delivery, the agency provided 7.5 tons of rice for residents in Bayemharjo and Tlogoharjo villages in Paranggupito district, Safuan said. (dra/ebf)

Read more!

Indonesia: Navy foils attempt to smuggle pangolins to Malaysia

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 25 Oct 17;

Navy personnel in Dumai, Riau, have foiled an attempt to smuggle 101 pangolins (or manis javanicas) to neighboring Malaysia.

Dumai Navy Commander Col. Yose Aldino said that the protected animals were found on a wooden boat on Bukit Batu waters in Bengkalis regency on Tuesday.

“We received information from the public that there was a boat departing from Sei Pakning engaging in illegal wildlife trade,” he said, adding that his office deployed two boats to foil the smuggling attempt.

Two crew members — identified as AW, 25, and BE, 22, from Bengkalis — were arrested, and dozens of pangolins covered in fishing net were seized as evidence. “If they managed to smuggle the pangolins to Malaysia, they would get Rp 800,000 (US$56) each,” Yose said.

The suspects are not fishermen, he said. “They said they were just minions. They had smuggled pangolins to Malaysia twice before. We are now searching for the mastermind behind the smuggling and where they got the protected animals from.” (ahw)

Read more!

Indonesia: Govt drops plan to cooperate with WWF - Minister

Antara 26 Oct 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has dropped a plan to cooperate with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in setting up a project management office for agrarian and social forestry reforms, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution said.

"After evaluating it (the planned cooperation), we found a potential conflict of interest because WWF also belongs to the alliance of civil societies. So, the (planned) cooperation is cancelled," he said here on Wednesday.

In the beginning, the government thought that the basis for the establishment of the cooperation is to support the performance of low-performing bureaucrats, he said while addressing a Tenurial Conference 2017.

"We need a project management office as bureaucrats work slowly. I have also received inputs from various parties so the planned cooperation is cancelled," he said.

Six days ago, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs agreed on the establishment of the project management office with WWF for Indonesia as part of efforts to support the governments equitable economic development program.

The planned cooperation came under the spotlights from various parties, including academics and civil society. Hence, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution decided to cancel it.

The government has launched an agrarian reform program, which covers legislation and redistribution of assets classified as land of agrarian reform program.(*)

Read more!

Indonesia: Bright prospect for tourism industry

Fardah Antara 26 Oct 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The countrys tourism industry development has seen significant progress, thanks to the hard work and efforts that the Joko Widodo (Jokowi) Administration has been putting in over the last three years.

Various infrastructure and other supporting facilities have been built to improve connectivity and accessibility to tourist destinations.

Deregulation investment policies have been issued and incentives have been offered to lure investors to invest their money in the tourism sector in Indonesia.

The government has set a target to receive 15 million foreign tourists to Indonesia this year and 20 million by 2019. Besides, 275 million domestic tourists are expected to travel by 2019.

Tourism is projected to be the largest contributor of foreign exchange earnings, worth Rp280 trillion.

The Indonesian tourism competitiveness index is also expected to rise to the 30th position, with a workforce of 13 million.

Based on data of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), the number of visits by foreign tourists in the first four months of the year reached 4.20 million, an increase of 19.34 percent, from 3.52 million visits recorded in the same period last year.

From January to July 2017, the number of foreign tourist arrivals was 7.81 million, up 23.53 percent from 6.32 million in the same period last year.

Indonesias tourism sector has also recorded a 25.68 percent growth in recent years. The tourism industry in the ASEAN region grew only by 7 percent, while a 6 percent growth was recorded at the global level.

Moreover, 500 thousand human resource professionals are targeted to receive certifications by 2019. Until 2017, some 300 thousand workers in the sector have been certified.

English media outlet The Telegraph has identified Indonesia as one of the top 20 countries with the fastest growth in the tourism sector. The countrys tourism growth is recorded to be fourfold higher than the regional and global growth.

Chusmeru, a tourism industry observer from the University of General Soedirman, Purwokerto, lauded the countrys tourism progress, adding that "After three years in power, the Jokowi Government has been successful in developing the tourism sector."

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has also witnessed the progress made in the development of the countrys tourism industry in 2016, Chusmeru added.

He considered the tourism sector to have made a rapid growth and hoped that the government would continue to focus on its infrastructure program to accelerate the development of the tourism industry.

The Tourism Ministry has planned to organize an Indonesian Tourism Outlook (ITO) in Jakarta on Nov 1, 2017, to analyze prospects and opportunities as well as to gather inputs from various parties related to develop Indonesias tourism sector.

The ITO would gather further inputs and analyze Indonesias future tourism prospects in order to achieve the target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, according to Deputy Minister for Tourism Development, I Gde Pitana.

Chairman of the Indonesian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association Purnomo welcomed the planned meeting.

"I laud the event, especially to collect inputs on meeting the target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals, which should be realized through hard work by all stakeholders, including the government, entrepreneurs, tourism players, and media," he noted.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya will be the keynote speaker at the event. Other speakers will include economic observer Faisal Basri, Senior Vice-President, Government and Industry Affairs of the World Travel and Tourism Council Helen Marano, and TripAdvisors Head of Destination Marketing APAC Sarah Mathew.

In his address, during a presentation highlighting the three-year term of the government of Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, on Oct 17, 2017, Minister Yahya remarked that based on the World Banks research, the tourism sector has become the core business in Indonesia, as it has largely contributed to the countrys gross domestic product and foreign exchange was well as created job opportunities.

The tourism sector is projected to generate the highest foreign exchange earnings in 2019, reaching US$24 billion, surpassing those generated from the oil and gas and crude palm oil sectors.

"In 2019, the tourism sector is projected to generate most of the countrys foreign exchange, higher than the oil and gas, coal, and palm oil sectors. It is the largest at both the regional and global levels," he noted during a discussion session held at the Presidential Staff Offices in Jakarta.

Foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector occupied the fourth position, after the oil and gas, coal, and palm oil sectors during the period between 2013 and 2015, but last year, it had moved to the second place, following palm oil, with $13.5 billion.

He pointed out that Thailand was Indonesias main competitor nation in the tourism sector, as its foreign exchange earnings in the sector exceeded Indonesias figure by $40 billion.(*)

Read more!

Electric cars emit 50% less greenhouse gas than diesel, study finds

Researchers calculated the total lifecycle emissions of an electric car, including its manufacture, battery manufacture, and all of its energy consumption
Arthur Neslen The Guardian 25 Oct 17;

Electric cars emit significantly less greenhouse gases over their lifetimes than diesel engines even when they are powered by the most carbon intensive energy, a new report has found.

In Poland, which uses high volumes of coal, electric vehicles produced a quarter less emissions than diesels when put through a full lifecycle modelling study by Belgium’s VUB University.

CO2 reductions on Europe’s cleanest grid in Sweden were a remarkable 85%, falling to around one half for countries such as the UK.

“On average, electric vehicles will emit half the CO2 emissions of a diesel car by 2030, including the manufacturing emissions,” said Yoann Le Petit, a spokesman for the T&E think tank, which commissioned the study.

“We’ve been facing a lot of fake news in the past year about electrification put out by the fuel industry but in this study you can see that even in Poland today it is more beneficial to the climate to drive an electric vehicle than a diesel.”

The new study uses an EU estimate of Poland’s emissions – at 650gCO2/kWh – which is significantly lower than calculations by the European commission’s Joint Research Centre science wing last year.

But its findings will likely be welcomed in Brussels, where a new emissions standard for 2030 is set to be unveiled in November, along with some potentially more radical proposals.

Speaking in the European parliament this month, the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Canete, said: “One option we’re looking at is a mandate to ensure a minimum share of low – for manufacturers it could be zero – emitting vehicles.”

Today, just 1.7% of new vehicles sold in Europe are electric, and some EU officials question whether Europe has access to enough lithium to create a 5-10% market share for electric cars anytime soon. Its capacity to scale up construction of battery plants may also be in doubt.

“You can’t have a massive explosion of electric cars as there’s no plants here to build the batteries,” one EU source said. “In any case, when you take into account the emissions from battery manufacture and electricity supply, their GHG emissions are not so attractive.

The VUB study says that while the supply of critical metals – lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite – and rare earths would have to be closely monitored and diversified, it should not constrain the clean transport transition.

As battery technology improves and more renewables enter the electricity grid, emissions from battery production itself could be cut by 65%, the study found.

Read more!