Singapore committed to UN goals on sustainable development: Masagos

Derek Wong Straits Times 12 May 19;

Initiatives to reduce food waste and leverage technology to transform agriculture have been implemented so Singapore can play its part in a global campaign to end hunger, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

Mr Masagos told the G-20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in Niigata, Japan, that Singapore is committed to achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2.

This aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable farming.

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Tackling global biodiversity challenge from the ground

Peter Edwards and Justine Saunders Straits Times 11 May 19;

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report published earlier this week documents a truly alarming picture of the accelerating loss of biological diversity around the world. It concludes that the state of the environment is critical - with 75 per cent of the world's land area significantly altered by humans, and approximately one million species at risk of extinction.

More importantly, it emphasises that this potential loss of species is worrying, not merely for conservation reasons, but because biological diversity is essential for human well-being.

In the past 25 years, we have gained a much fuller understanding of our dependence upon the "ecosystem services" that plants and animals provide. For example, healthy forests help to regulate water and cool the environment, and healthy oceans provide a sustainable supply of fish.

Without these ecosystem services, we jeopardise economic growth and put the lives of future generations at risk.

The problem of biodiversity loss, as presented in the report, is one of a "tragedy of the commons" playing out on a global scale. But despite the gravity of the situation, the report's authors insist it is not too late to act.

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Powering up clean energy on Semakau

Fish farm runs on energy harnessed from renewable sources with micro-grid system
Vanessa Liu Straits Times 11 May 19;

Semakau Island might be known for being Singapore's only landfill site, but it is also producing 100 per cent clean energy to power a fish farm there.

More than 9,500 sq m of solar panels located there, coupled with a wind turbine, can power up to 350 four-room Housing Board units for a year, with a total output of 1.5MW at peak capacity.

Since the end of February, the deep-sea fish farm owned by Barramundi Asia on the island has been running on 100 per cent clean energy harnessed from different renewable sources with an energy integration system.

The Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator-Singapore (Reids) - a project initiated by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - is the largest system of interconnected micro-grids in South-east Asia.

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Malaysia’s palm oil growers fall on hard times

Vincent Tan Channel NewsAsia 12 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: It has not been a particularly good year for Malaysia's palm oil industry, hammered first by dwindling demand from its traditional markets, and then in March, the European Commission (EC) concluded that palm oil would be phased out from use in transport fuels by 2030 due to environmental concerns.

As the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, Malaysia has hit back, with politicians calling the EC’s decision protectionist and threatening retaliation.

On the ground, low palm prices and sustainability are only part of the problems faced by smallholders. They also have to deal with pests and low yield; some are considering whether to repurpose their plantations.

Mr Ibrahim Manap, 58, a smallholder in Hulu Selangor, said the declaration by the EC that palm oil is “unsustainable” is only a political excuse.

“They can chop their forests down, but we are (supposed to be) oxygen suppliers. This is not fair,” Mr Ibrahim said.

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Malaysia: Those involved in death of clouded leopard have one week to come forward

The Star 11 May 19;

MELAKA (Bernama): The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has given two individuals believed to be involved in the death of a clouded leopard at a farm in Kampung Kemuning, Alor Gajah, a week's time to come forward and record their statements.

Melaka Perhilitan director Mohd Hasdi Husin said the individuals spotted in a picture with a carcass of the animal listed as 'vulnerable' (population decreasing) in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List have been urged to come to the Perhilitan office to assist with determining the cause of the animal's death.

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Malaysia: Metal toxicity at sea is harming marine life

arnold loh The Star 11 May 19;

GEORGE TOWN: The heavy metal nickel – in a concentration 944% higher than natural – has been found in the sea off Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang.

It is identified as the probable pollutant that led to anoxic or dead zones with hardly any dissolved oxygen (DO) along the island’s north coast since last month and may also be killing live marine specimens in a research lab at the park’s beach.

The nickel-based pollutant is believed to have spread and caused the sea off Tanjung Bungah, not far from Penang Swimming Club, to record a DO level of just 0.08mg/L – too low to support marine life.

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Indonesia's search for new capital vexes green groups

Straits Times 11 May 19;

JAKARTA • President Joko Widodo has ended a two-day trip to different cities in Kalimantan on Borneo island in search of options to set up a new capital for Indonesia, after his administration decided to move ahead with a plan to create a new administrative hub away from overcrowded Jakarta.

He said he was assessing the "feel" of each city touted as an option for the new capital.

After his city-hopping trip across the Indonesian side of Borneo, he seemed impressed with at least two sites: Bukit Soeharto - or Suharto Hill - in East Kalimantan and the Triangle Area in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.

But there are concerns among green groups that moving the centre of government to Kalimantan might lead to environmental disasters in or around the new capital.

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Thailand: Massive corals off Rayong start bleaching

The Thaiger 10 May 19;

Massive and aged corals have started to bleach off the coast of Rayong in the Gulf of Thailand.

Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, assistant dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University and a marine biologist says, “The coral in Rayong has started to bleach. From a bird eye view we can see clearly the white coral around around the rocks under the water. ”

“These are massive corals which are bleaching very quickly. Normally this kind of coral takes a long time to bleach and react to the changes in temperature and environment.”

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Stalling on Climate Change Action May Cost Investors Over $1 Trillion

Mathew Carr, Bloomberg Yahoo News 11 May 19;

(Bloomberg) -- Delays in tackling climate change could cost companies about $1.2 trillion worldwide during the next 15 years, according to the United Nations.

That’s the preliminary analysis of a UN Environment Finance Initiative project that brought together 20 global fund managers to measure the impact of climate change on 30,000 of the largest listed companies. The group has created a guide for investors to assess how their holdings would respond to different levels of global warming and policy making.

“Investors have a central role to play in moving the world to a low-carbon future,” said Maurice Tulloch, chief executive officer of Aviva Plc, one of the participants in the project. “This collaboration shows how we can all take better decisions, for our customers and for the environment.”

Extreme weather events, including floods, tropical cyclones, and extreme hot and cold days are already hitting business operations. Should governments install tougher policy in the push for cleaner technology, emission-intensive companies will increasingly struggle to compete.

As well as Aviva, the investor group included companies such as Manulife Asset Management, M&G Prudential Ltd. and DNB Asset Management AS. The work was guided by advisory and modeling firms Carbon Delta AG and Vivid Economics Ltd.

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