Saturday, 9 May 2015

Addressing climate change through energy, waste management

WE AGREE with Mr Lee Yong Se ("Take heed of climate warning"; April 27) and Mr Damon Tan Jie Hui ("Recycling works better with rewards"; Monday) that Singaporeans need to be more aware of climate change and the actions to address it.

While it is true that Singapore can learn useful lessons on environmental policy from other countries, one has to bear in mind the different context in which each country operates.

Singapore already has very low carbon intensity that is comparable to or lower than the countries mentioned by the writers, but we must still aim to do even more.

Energy efficiency is our core strategy to further reduce carbon emissions, given our relative lack of access to renewable energy.

For example, the National Environment Agency's Energy Efficiency National Partnership programme is an industry-focused voluntary programme that supports companies' energy-efficiency efforts.

There are also other programmes that target energy efficiency in households.

We agree with Mr Tan that ground-up efforts are essential to changing environmental behaviour.

Government agencies are working with partners in the people, public and private (3P) sectors on educational outreach programmes to promote environmental awareness and action.

Through collective participation and ownership of this issue, we can do our part to create a more carbon-efficient and climate-resilient Singapore.

With regard to waste management, we need to incorporate the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) into our lifestyle.

We can practise responsible consumption and reduce waste.

We can also reuse what we have, wherever possible.

For example, we can reuse plastic grocery bags to bag our rubbish to maintain good public hygiene during waste collection and ensure that our homes are kept clean and pest-free.

We should also recycle as much as possible.

To make it convenient, recycling facilities have been provided within easy reach in neighbourhoods: Existing HDB flats have one recycling bin per block; most new HDB flats have a centralised chute for recyclables.

We aim to push our recycling rate from 60 per cent today to 70 per cent by 2030.

Please refer to Climate Change & Singapore (2012) and the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 for more information on measures to address climate change and what we can do for a sustainable Singapore.

Yuen Sai Kuan
Director (Corporate Affairs)
National Climate Change Secretariat
Prime Minister's Office

Lee Kheng Seng
Director (3P Network)
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources
ST Forum, 8 May 2015

Take heed of climate warning

SINGAPOREANS should seriously heed the warning that Singapore will face more extreme weather conditions in future ("S'pore to get hotter, more extreme weather in future"; April 16).

Currently, most Singaporeans are nonchalant about climate change, and opt for convenience over eco-friendly behaviour.

This is evident in how we wastefully take plastic carriers and do not recycle our trash.

Sadly, the government agencies in charge of our environment are somewhat backward in mitigating our environmental impact, compared to the authorities inJapan, South Korea or Taiwan.

In the wake of the ominous warning, perhaps we should review our current policies concerning the environment, and emulate the best practices of other countries.

Some measures which the Government has to implement include making recycling compulsory and imposing a tax on plastic carriers.

As meat contributes significantly to climate change, perhaps all government offices could also designate a "meat out" day.

Lee Yong Se
ST Forum, 27 Apr 2015

Recycling works better with rewards

I AGREE with Mr Lee Yong Se that global warming should be taken seriously ("Take heed of climate warning"; last Monday).

However, instead of a top-down approach, efforts should go towards encouraging a recycling culture and raising awareness of climate change.

Mandatory recycling would cause discontent and be a regressive way to promote the ethic of recycling.

The focus should be on providing incentives than on punishment.

Imposing a tax on plastic carriers is a poorer alternative to current efforts like FairPrice's Green Rewards Scheme, which gives a rebate to those who use their own bags on a minium purchase of $10.

Even if one opts to charge consumers for plastic bags, it should be done as part of corporate social responsibility, similar to the "Bring Your Own Bag" scheme.

To achieve high recycling rates, a country's population must understand the perils of global warming, like Sweden, which has a 99 per cent recycling rate.

Mr Lee suggests that emulating "the best practices in other countries" is the way to go, yet these practices are rarely punitive.

Rather, they encourage everyone to play their part.

Damon Tan Jie Hui
ST Forum, 4 May 2015

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