Saturday 16 June 2012

Singapore's strategy to fight climate change: National Climate Change Strategy 2012

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia, 14 Jun 2012

Singapore has released a national climate change strategy document which outlines the country's plans to address climate change through a whole-of-nation approach.

The key elements of Singapore's climate strategy include reducing emissions across sectors, building capabilities to adapt to the impact of climate change, harnessing opportunities for green growth and forging partnerships on climate change action.

The 136-page document was launched on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.

Mr Teo said: "Energy efficiency is one of the key strategies because we are an alternative-energy-disadvantaged country because we do not have hydroelectricity (or) nuclear power. Even if it (nuclear power) is an option, it is a very long-term option because of our density."

On reducing emissions, Mr Teo said the inter-ministerial committee will study how Singapore can stabilise its long-term emissions.

At the same time, he urged everyone to play his or her part to combat climate change.

"What can you do, what can we do, what can I do together? Ultimately how well Singapore does in our response to climate change will depend on the collective efforts across the people, private and public sectors," he said.

Mr Teo added: "Everyone has a part to play whether through lifestyle adjustments or changes in business processes. This could be through buying more efficient appliances, taking public transport, using less air-conditioning or simply switching off the lights when we leave our homes, classrooms or offices."

Isabella Loh, chairman of the Singapore Environment Council, said: "We are encouraging through ownership, through social media outlets as well as through events and programmes and partnering with corporates, to do more outreach whether it is in the school segment or the community. That goes for energy audits and consumer understanding of green products."

It is projected that Singapore's business-as-usual emissions are expected to reach 77.2 million tonnes by 2020. The business-as-usual level refers to Singapore's projected greenhouse gas emissions without policy intervention.

The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) said the manufacturing sector will contribute 60.3 per cent of these emissions, with global manufacturing companies set to scale up their operations in Singapore in the coming years.

Singapore's refining and chemical industries are expected to contribute about half of Singapore's projected 2020 emissions. In view of this, Singapore has put in place various schemes to facilitate the adoption of energy efficient technologies and processes in manufacturing plants.

The building sector is estimated to contribute 13.8 per cent of 2020 emission levels. The National Climate Change Secretariat said the increasing demand for commercial space and more intensive use of space are likely to contribute to an increase in emissions from this sector.

Recognising this, the government has implemented measures and incentives to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

The transport sector is projected to contribute 14.5 per cent to greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Private cars contribute the largest share of 35 per cent of land transport emissions, followed by commercial vehicles, buses, taxis and the rapid transit rail system.

The secretariat said it will step up efforts to increase the attractiveness of public transport and encourage the public to make use of this energy efficient mode of transport.

Under the Land Transport Masterplan, Singapore targets to achieve a 70 per cent public transport modal split by 2020, up from 59 per cent in 2008.

Households will contribute about 7.6 per cent of emissions. That is because growing population size and household incomes are expected to increase the demand for electrical appliances like air-conditioners, televisions, lightings and refrigerators, which contribute to greenhouse gases.

The secretariat said it has put in place awareness programmes to educate households on ways to save energy. It added that it will consider more measures to influence purchasing and energy usage patterns.

The secretariat has published a booklet entitled "The fight against climate change begins with You". Through this booklet, Singaporeans can find out how much money they can save in a year if they adopt energy efficient habits. For example, using a fan instead of the air-conditioner can help them save S$790 a year.

There will also be a series of public outreach programmes from September and a two-part documentary to educate the public on climate change. There are also plans for climate change education in collaboration with the Education Ministry and the Science Centre.

In his message published in the document, Mr Teo said Singapore needs to be pragmatic and practical, yet bold and visionary in addressing the issues surrounding climate change.

He said: "Making adjustments earlier will make the transition easier. Every individual effort such as buying more energy-efficient appliances, taking public transport and using less energy will count."

He said efforts to reduce Singapore's long-term emissions will be challenging as Singapore's small size limits the country's ability to draw on alternative energy like solar, wind or nuclear.

Nonetheless, he said Singapore will enhance energy efficiency efforts and develop low carbon technologies to overcome current constraints.

Singapore is also building up expertise and capabilities on climate science, in partnerships with local and overseas research institutions.

Mr Teo added that Singapore is well-positioned to tap the economic opportunities arising from climate change by creating high-value jobs for Singaporeans and enabling the economy to benefit from green growth.

Asked about the status of the Global Climate Change talks, Mr Teo explained: "It will be difficult because every country has its own interest which it wants to advance. But from being in Durban last year, there was a consensus that we should try to reach a global agreement.

"This is not something which country A does and country B doesn't do. Then all that country A does almost gets nullified by what country B isn't doing. So you do need a global agreement and that consensus on that. But the shape of the global agreement will be a subject of intense discussion.

"On Singapore's part, we have followed the standard methodology and arrived at what our projected carbon emissions would be in 2020 if we just did Business As Usual, and we have made a commitment to reduce that between seven and 11 per cent unconditionally and the NCCS 2020 document maps out what we are going to do."

As for the longer term target of 16 percent, he said Singapore would have to take more energy efficient measures. "One of the things we have to consider is carbon tax...we are still studying whether it is appropriate and what is the best way of doing so. We are looking at the experiences of other countries, as well."

Why Singapore green targets are 'smaller'
DPM Teo explains disparity with other states: We've been eco-friendly for many years
By Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2012

DESPITE its small size, which limits the use of renewable energy, Singapore has been a green country for many years.

That is why its targets for the environment are smaller than those in some other countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

'If you were a heavy polluter in the past, you would have a lot more scope to cut emissions. But Singapore has been a very green country for many years,' he said.

He said this at the launch of a book at Ngee Ann Polytechnic on the Republic's green goals and efforts to achieve them. While the strategies outlined are not new, this is the first time they have been consolidated into a book.

The National Climate Change Strategy 2012 also includes the nation's target to trim its projected greenhouse gas emissions - by as much as 11 per cent by 2020.

It will raise this target to 16 per cent if a global, legally binding deal is reached.

By comparison, Taiwan and South Korea have pledged to attain a target of 30 per cent.

Mr Teo said Singapore did not pledge a higher cut because there were already several initiatives in place to protect the environment - it has long controlled its vehicle population growth, for example.

Also, about 80 per cent of its electricity is generated from natural gas, which is more environmentally friendly than coal or oil.

It is currently estimated that Singapore will produce about 77.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2020, if it had done nothing more to reduce them since 2005. Taiwan's emissions by 2020 are estimated at 257 million tonnes even with a 30 per cent cut.

Asked about the disparity in cuts, Mr Teo said that 'different countries have different national circumstances', such as access to sources of renewable energy.

According to the National Climate Change Secretariat, Singapore's size makes it hard to harness solar and wind energy effectively, which requires large infrastructure.

Mr Teo, who also chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said that despite such natural limitations, the Republic's 7 per cent to 11 per cent reduction target can be achieved.

One measure that will kick in next year is an emissions-based vehicle scheme that rewards drivers of fuel-efficient cars. The Government is also studying the possibility of a carbon tax, he said.

Residents can also help - by using energy-efficient devices and public transport and turning off lights not in use. 'Everyone has a part to play - whether through lifestyle adjustments or changes to business processes,' he said.

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