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Climate Change and Singapore 22 March , 2007

Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge, 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.

Bob Sargent, President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), gave a seminar at NTU’s Environmental Engineering Research Centre this afternoon. His seminar is on “Water Resources in a Changing Climate – What are the implications of climate change for Singapore’s water infrastructure?”.

In his seminar, he summarised the findings from the recent IPCC report and the Stern Review report. He also gave a summary of what might happen to the region around Singapore in the 21st century, including reduced total rainfall, increased variability of rainfall and sea level rise of about 50 cm. He concluded with the consequences on Singapore’s water infrastructure, including the need to cater for variable rainfall, greater provision for storm runoff, and some low level reservoirs threatened by sea level rise.

In the Q&A session, he asked the audience what Singapore is doing to mitigate climate change but there was no response (although some PUB officers were present in the audience). Is Singapore doing something?

Read the National Climate Change Strategy consultation paper for Singapore’s plans to tackle climate change. Below are four suggestions that I submitted during the consultation process:

1) Using reduction in absolute CO2 emissions as a target instead of carbon intensity
A reduction in carbon intensity does not necessary mean a reduction in the amount of CO2 emissions. The problem of climate change is one of absolute concentration of CO2 and each country must reduce its CO2 emissions. Singapore’s per capita emission is one of the highest in Asia and is similar to some developed countries. Most developed countries (Annex 1 countries) under the Kyoto Protocol are required to reduce absolute emissions by about 5% below 1990 levels. Likewise, we should set a target of reducing our absolute CO2 emissions by 5%. I’m not aware of other countries that use carbon intensity as a national target.

2) Setting up of decentralised power stations using renewable source
The current centralised power generation and distribution of electricity is not that efficient as electricity need to be transferred at long distances to users. Decentralised power stations at selected locations could be set up using renewable sources to generate electricity. These power stations would serve localised users and increase energy efficiency due to shorter electricity transfer.

3) Ramping up the use of alternative energy
More alterantive sources of energy such as solar, wind, tidal and biomass should be researched and developed. The intention is not to completely replace oil and natural gas but to reduce our dependence on energy imports. We have our 4 national taps (from water import, reservoirs, Newater and desalination), similarly, we should aim for our 4 national switches (oil, natural gas, and 2 other sources). The cost of alternative energy might be higher now but we should also take into account the future price of oil given the security and climate change concerns. Besides considering the cost of doing something, we should also consider the cost of not doing it.

4) More emphasis on reducing energy consumption and wastage in buildings
There are 2 approaches to reduce energy usage and wastage in a building. One is by changing the System, eg. conducting energy audit, switching to energy efficient equipment, using motion sensors, etc. The other is by changing the Culture, eg. switching off lights when leaving the office, switching off computers and printers when not in use or when leaving the office, etc. Both the System and Culture must be done together to achieve a reduction in energy usage.

Some of my wishes have already been answered as the government recently announced plans to focus on clean energy research and also consider legislating Green Mark requirements on buildings. I hope that the government can also consider using reduction in absolute CO2 emissions as a target instead of carbon intensity.

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