Friday, 9 October 2015

Singapore takes environmental challenges seriously

We thank Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh for his feedback ("Singapore's production, consumption also to blame"; Sept 26).

Mr Vadaketh rightly pointed out that Singapore is a small city-state that has unique energy needs, given our open, trade-dependent economy. Notwithstanding this, it is incorrect to state that Singapore has been complicit in its production and consumption cycles, in terms of environmental standards.

Although Singapore exports more than 60 per cent of our manufacturing output and contributes to 2.2 per cent of global trade, it accounts for only 0.2 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Based on the International Energy Agency's 2014 World Energy Statistics, out of 140 countries assessed, we are ranked among the 20 per cent with the lowest emissions intensity. This means that Singapore is one of the most efficient producers of goods, emitting less greenhouse gases for each dollar of gross domestic product generated, as compared with many other developed economies.

If we do not produce these goods, another country that is less emissions-efficient than us will do so - releasing more greenhouse gases into the environment.

We have actively introduced new measures over the past few years to reduce our energy consumption and ecological footprint.

The Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) and Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) were introduced in 2008 and 2011 respectively to enable consumers to make more informed purchases and to encourage the sale of more energy-efficient household appliances.

MEPS and MELS have been introduced for household appliances with high energy consumption, such as refrigerators and air-conditioners. Demand for the more energy-efficient models has been increasing, and we intend to widen these two schemes to cover more products.

We encourage companies to exercise greater environmental responsibility by actively embracing green procurement policies in their organisations.

They could source suppliers whose supply chains have been certified to be sustainably sourced or produced. For example, paper products could bear the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and products with palm oil could bear the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) label.

Collectively, by increasing market demand for sustainable products, we can influence producers and suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices in their production process.

Singapore takes its regional and global environmental challenges, including transboundary haze, seriously and recently pledged to lower its emissions intensity even further by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

While much has been done, more can still be done. We will need to join forces with all stakeholders, including the international community, to deal with this global problem.

Lee Kheng Seng
Director (Communications & 3P Partnerships)
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources
ST Forum, 8 Oct 2015

Singapore's production, consumption also to blame

While it is much easier to point our fingers at ordinary Indonesian farmers, incompetent officials or allegedly corrupt companies, it is important also to recognise our own complicity in global production and consumption cycles.

Singapore has one of the highest per capita energy consumption rates and ecological footprints in the world.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), if every person lived like a Singaporean, we would need 4.1 planets to sustain humanity.

The world's largest palm oil-based diesel plant is in Singapore, gulping almost a million tonnes of raw material annually.

Singapore's food wastage, meanwhile, is also arguably the highest in the world, at 130kg per person per year. Palm oil, of course, is heavily used in the food industry.

Singapore is small, a drop in the ocean. Our trade-dependent economy has unique energy needs.

But we are a model to which many in Asia aspire.

It would be a shame if the current haze served only to focus our energies on the failings of others and not our own behaviour.

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh
ST Forum, 26 Sep 2015

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