Best of our wild blogs: 7 Apr 18

27 Apr (Fri): Treasures Of Our Shores - Panel Discussion
Celebrating Singapore Shores

Indonesian conservation bill is weak on wildlife crime, critics say

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Owners of older motorcycles will get up to S$3,500 for de-registering bikes over next 5 years

Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 6 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE: Owners of motorcycles registered before Jul 1, 2003 will get up to S$3,500 if they choose to de-register their motorcycles over the next five years.

About 27,000 motorcycles will meet the criteria for this incentive, which comes as the Government steps up efforts to meet air quality targets by 2020.

"Over the years, we have been trying to reduce the number of older vehicles on the road to ensure that our air quality is something that’s healthy for everyone to breathe," Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli told reporters as he announced the incentive on Friday (Apr 6).

The incentive consists of two components: S$2,000 for eligible owners and an additional S$1,500 if they do not renew their motorcycles’ Certificate of Entitlements (COE). Owners will also get a rebate for unused COE periods.

The breakdown means that eligible owners who choose to renew their motorcycles’ COEs on or after Apr 7 before de-registering their motorcycles within the next five years will only get S$2,000.

Owners of motorcycles that are on five-year COEs, or the Classic, Vintage (Restricted) and Revised Vintage Vehicle Schemes as of Apr 6 are not eligible for this incentive.

Eligible owners will receive a letter from the National Environment Agency (NEA) by the end of this month informing them of the incentive.

"This (incentive) is one way for them to evaluate and compare the cost-benefit of having the vehicle on the road versus cashing it out and using hopefully public transport, or even if they have to, change to better standard motorcycles," Mr Masagos said.

"This will incur cost for themselves, but the S$3,500 they can cash out will lower the burden of doing so."


After the incentive scheme ends on Apr 6, 2023, NEA will tighten the in-use emission standards of such older motorcycles. The agency said it will release details in due course.

After Jun 30, 2028, these motorcycles will not be allowed on the roads.

However, motorcycles on the Classic, Vintage (Restricted) and Revised Vintage Vehicle Schemes are exempted as they are already subjected to restricted usage.

Motorcycles are tested for their emissions at the Vicom inspection facility in Sin Ming.

Meanwhile, NEA said it will look at measures to reduce pollution from foreign motorcycles, without elaborating further. Last month, it nabbed 197 motorcyclists at the land checkpoints for smoke and excessive noise emission offences.

NEA is targeting motorcycles as they contribute 53 per cent to local sources of carbon monoxide (CO), even though they make up 15 per cent of vehicles on the road.

In addition, older motorcycles registered before Jul 1, 2003 emit up to 30 times more pollutants than new motorcycles. They also contribute 40 per cent of the total CO emitted by motorcycles on the road.

“Motorcycle emission is a public health concern because it contains hydrocarbons and CO, which are precursors to ozone,” NEA said in a release. “CO and ozone are known to impair respiratory functions.”

Channel NewsAsia understands that NEA does not have plans to roll out this incentive for older cars as they only make up 1 per cent of the car population.

In contrast, motorcycles that are 15 years old and beyond make up 21 per cent of motorcycles on the road. Some of the oldest bikes on the road are more than 65 years old.


Channel NewsAsia also understands that the incentive was designed to run over the next five years to avoid causing an increase in COE premiums for motorcycles.

In addition, some owners might decide that they do not need a new motorcycle after taking up the incentive, reducing the demand for COEs.

However, Mr Masagos said he expects the incentive to have an initial impact on COE prices, albeit not a long-term one.

"There will probably be an immediate impact on reaction," he said. "But because we are giving at least five years for people to make a decision to cash in on de-registering their motorcycles, and also another five years for them to actually use it, we think that it will even out the impact over the years."

Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association secretary-general Norman Lee told Channel NewsAsia that he expects a short-term dip in COE prices as dealers cash in on surplus stocks of older motorcycles that buyers don't want.

"If such an exercise in the short term is magnified, we should have more unused bikes or old COEs return to the system and appearing by the next quarter to push the prices down," he said.

Motorcycles that are three years old and older have to be inspected every year.


While Mr Lee expects dealers to take advantage of the incentive, he said riders will be less enthusiastic.

"S$3,500 gets you nothing in the market today," he said. "Compared to today's COE value, it is worth less than five years of usage, and we haven’t factored in the machine price (of a new motorcycle)."

Explaining this, Mr Lee gave the example of an eligible owner who in 2013 renewed his motorcycle's COE for 10 years based on the premium then, which was about S$2,000. If he were to take up the incentive by de-registering his bike now, Mr Lee said he would only get S$3,500, plus less than S$1,000 in COE rebates.

"You can barely buy a COE (with that)," he added. "If you do not touch the bike now, the opportunity cost is only S$1,000 to use the bike for the next five years."

In the last COE exercise, motorcycle premiums closed at S$7,114.

Mr Amri Sidik, who owns a rare Italian-made Vespa scooter registered in 2001, said the S$3,500 incentive might not be enough for riders who own older motorcycles that have a bigger engine capacity and are thus more expensive.

"For smaller bikes it's fine," the 30-year-old said. "But I'm not sure if there should be a tiered thing. S$3,500 for all classes of motorcycles might be unfair to some."

Mr Amri has developed an affinity for his scooter and wants to hold on to it for as long as he can. The self-employed worker intended to keep renewing his scooter's COE, which expires in 2021, every 10 years. But because his bike will not be allowed on the roads beyond 2028, he's had to rethink his plan.

"If we maintain our engines, go for regular servicing and pass the inspections yearly, what's wrong with that?" he said. "I'm not really keen on the incentive. The part where I can't use it beyond 2028 bugs me more."

This incentive is the latest in a slew of measures aimed at reducing vehicular emissions, which NEA said is a “key source” of air pollution here.

Mr Masagos said in Parliament last month that the Government would be reviewing how to reduce vehicular pollution from older, more polluting vehicles.

The minister also said last year that new emission standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles on the roads would kick in from Apr 1 this year.

The new standards, which are comparable to those in Europe and Japan, would reduce emissions due to “vehicle defects or poor maintenance”, he added.

NEA figures show that Singapore has some way to go in meeting its air quality targets. Last year, the eight-hour mean measurement for ozone was 191 µg/m3. The target is 100 µg/m3 by 2020.

When asked if Singapore is on track to meet the targets, Mr Masagos said: "This and all the initiatives, including how we tighten up our road and industrial emissions, all tie up to meet our WHO (World Health Organization) standards for 2020."

Source: CNA/nc

Cash incentive to encourage deregistration of older motorcycles
TOH EE MING Today Online 6 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE — To cut air pollution and meet air quality targets for 2020, motorcyclists will be given a cash incentive of up to S$3,500 to deregister their older, more pollutive vehicles over the next five years, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (April 6).

Motorcyclists who registered their vehicles before July 1, 2003 will receive S$2,000 if they deregister them on or before April 5, 2023, said the NEA in a press release.

If the motorcycle’s Certificate of Entitlement is not renewed on or after 7 April 2018, the owner will receive an additional S$1,500 upon its de-registration. The owner will also receive a rebate for the unused COE period, upon its de-registration.

Around 27,000 motorcycles aged 15 years old or older will meet the criteria for the incentive.

Motorcycle owners holding five-year non-renewable COEs, as well as those on Classic, Vintage (Restricted), and Revised Vintage vehicle schemes as of April 6 will not be eligible.

“The new initiative addresses the large contribution to air pollution by motorcycles,” said the NEA, adding that while motorcycles make up 15 per cent of the local vehicle population, they contribute around 50 per cent of carbon monoxide (CO) from vehicles.

The agency added that older motorcycles are also more pollutive. “Those registered before July 1, 2003 (i.e. before the introduction of Euro I emission standards for motorcycles) emit up to about 10 times more CO and 30 times more hydrocarbons compared to a Euro IV motorcycle today,” it said.

Such older motorcycles make up around 20 per cent of Singapore’s motorcycle population, but account for about 40 per cent of CO emitted by motorcycles.

Speaking to reporters at Vicom vehicle inspection centre on Friday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said the cash incentive may have an “immediate impact” on COE prices.

“But because we are giving at least five years for people to make a decision to cash in on de-registering their motorcycles… We think this would even out the impact,” he said.

Owners of motorcycles registered before July 1, 2003 will receive a letter from NEA by end-April to inform them if they are eligible for the incentive.

Separately, the NEA and the ministry will also tighten in-use emission standards for older motorbikes from April 6, 2023, before they are phased out after June 30, 2028. More details will be shared later.

Motorcycles on the Classic, Vintage (Restricted) and Revised Vintage Vehicle Schemes are exempted as they are already subject to restricted usage.

Motorcycle owners said the NEA’s move would hit their pockets and called for the authorities to tackle pollution by foreign-registered vehicles here.

A civil servant who wanted to be known as Mr Nor, 30, said he was dismayed by the move to phase out these older motorbikes by 2028.

The owner of a 1979 Vespa scooter said cash incentives “do not appeal to him” because of the “sentimental value and memories” attached to his ride, which he bought with his first paycheck from a friend in 2012 for about S$2,500.

Mr Nor said he would wait for more details on the tightened in-use emission standards from April 6, 2023, before deciding whether to renew the COE on his Vespa, which has about two years left on its COE.

Buying a new bike would cost at least four times more, which would defeat the purpose of “cutting down on transport costs”, he said.

In the “worst case scenario”, Mr Nor said he would deregister the motorcycle and reassemble the parts into an armchair.

Another motorcyclist who wanted to be known as Mr Wee, 48, said the move would leave him “with no choice” but to fork out a hefty sum to even switch to a second-hand motorbike, given the high motorcycle COE premiums. Some could be “forced to give their motorbikes up and take up public transport”, he said.

Mr Norman Lee, honorary general secretary of the Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association, welcomed the new incentive scheme but hoped that after 2028, “iconic and legendary” motorcycle models which currently do not qualify for the Classic and Vintage Schemes would be considered for conservation in Singapore.

Mr Lee felt it was unfair that emission requirements do not apply to some 45,000 foreign-registered motorcycles that enter Singapore on a daily basis.

TODAY understands the NEA is looking at measures to curb pollution by foreign motorbikes.

Other Government schemes to tackle air pollution by vehicles include the Vehicular Emissions Scheme and the Early Turnover Scheme for commercial vehicles.

Tighter exhaust emission standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles also took effect from April 1, with CO limits lowered for newer petrol vehicles and motorcycles, and hydrocarbon limits introduced for all petrol vehicles and most motorcycles.

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Indonesia peatland swap plan questioned over deforestation risk

Kanupriya Kapoor, Fergus Jensen Reuters 6 Apr 18;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian plan to curb the commercial use of peatlands, by swapping nearly 1 million hectares of forestry concessions on carbon-rich peat, risks simply displacing environmental destruction to other parts of the archipelago, green groups say.

Indonesia was blamed for one of the worst ever peat and forest fire crises that blanketed much of Southeast Asia in thick haze in 2015, and since then has sought to take back and protect vast tracts of peatlands from corporations.

But environmentalists say a new ‘land swap’ policy - which will affect an area the size of Lebanon - may undermine those efforts if relatively undamaged land is given to companies that in the past have been criticized for unsustainable practices.

An Indonesian environment ministry official said under the deal companies will be evaluated over the course of this year to assess how well they have restored damaged peatland on existing concessions before receiving new land elsewhere.

“For this land swap, we will look for empty land that is non-productive,” said Hilman Nugroho, a senior official at the environment ministry.

An alliance of 10 environmental organizations said in a joint statement this week that the government was not being open about what land would be exchanged.

“We fear that vast areas of natural forest, especially in Kalimantan, Sumatra (island), and Papua will be designated for land swaps and converted into pulpwood plantations in the name of peatland restoration,” the environmental organizations said. Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of Borneo island.

“The policy will also threaten the livelihoods and cultures of indigenous peoples,” said the statement, which was issued by groups including the World Wildlife Fund Indonesia and Eyes on the Forest.

To estimate where potential land concessions would be given away, the alliance compared satellite imagery of forested area with known government allocations of land suitable for plantations and inactive land.

“With this analysis, we found that 971,900 hectares of potential land swap locations are on natural forest area,” said Syarul Fitra of Auriga, one of the NGOs in the alliance.

The government has not made public the locations of the new concessions that will be given as part of the swap.

An environment ministry document seen by Reuters showed companies set to receive new land include several companies linked to Singapore-based Asia Pulp and Paper (APP).

One of those companies, PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, was in 2016 found guilty by an Indonesian court of illegally setting fires on its concession land in South Sumatra.

A spokesman for APP declined to comment. Bumi Mekar Hijau could not be reached for comment.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo approved last year a two-year extension to a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland.

The country has suffered one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world - often cleared for palm oil and other plantations or pulp and paper mills.

In the last half century more than 74 million hectares of Indonesian rainforest - representing an area twice the size of Germany - have been logged, burned or degraded, according to Greenpeace.

Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Fergus Jensen; Additional reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Ed Davies and Gopakumar Warrier

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