Singapore unveils action plan in climate change fight

Measures include heat stress data system to help public, which will be ready by year end

SINGAPORE - Singapore has unveiled its latest plan to tackle climate change and meet its targets under the Paris climate change agreement, with measures including a new heat stress information system to help the public better plan outdoor activities.

The system, which could be similar to current health advisories for haze, will be ready by the year end.

The plan was outlined in two booklets, jointly titled Climate Action Plan, announced yesterday by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the opening ceremony of the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore at Marina Bay Sands.

"The Climate Action Plan outlines bold steps that Singapore is taking to achieve our 2030 carbon mitigation plan, as well as to strengthen our resilience to climate change," said Dr Tan.

Singapore signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in April, and aims to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise emissions with the goal of peaking around 2030.

"These are ambitious targets, given Singapore's limited options for renewable energy," said the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and Ministry of National Development (MND) in a statement.

The first document, produced by NCCS, looks at how to achieve the targets. A pivotal strategy to cut carbon emissions is to continue to improve energy efficiency by expanding the scope of current initiatives across all sectors, namely power generation, industry, buildings, transport, household, waste and water.

Key plans include improving energy efficiency by 1 per cent to 2 per cent a year from 2020 to 2030 in the industry sector, which contributes over half of the country's emissions.

The energy efficiency improvement rate for about 160 energy-intensive firms under the Energy Conservation Act - which have to report their energy use to the National Environment Agency - was about 0.7 per cent per year in 2014 and 2015.

The second booklet, produced by MEWR and MND, details a "whole- of-Government" strategy to prepare for climate change. "Singapore is a low-lying, densely populated tropical island state. We are vulnerable to the impact of climate change such as sea-level rise, higher temperatures and more pronounced dry seasons, as well as more intense rainfall," said the statement.

The measures to deal with climate change fall into six areas, including coastal protection, managing the water supply and improving Singapore's food supply resilience.

One project is to build Changi Airport's Terminal 5 at 5.5m above the mean sea level - higher than the level that national water agency PUB stipulates for other areas in Singapore to protect against floods.

NCCS senior director Tang Tuck Weng said: "Singapore signed the Paris Agreement earlier this year, so we thought it's timely to update members of the public on how Singapore intends to fulfil its pledge."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said he hopes more people can play a part in this effort.

"Our goal of building a more carbon-efficient and climate-resilient Singapore can only be achieved when the community and businesses work together with the Government in making climate-friendly habits and practices a way of life."

Proposals in Singapore's Climate Action Plan


• Investing in low-carbon technologies. PUB is testing electrochemical desalting, for example, to cut the energy used in the desalination process.

• Developing new Waste-to-Energy plants to optimise resource and energy recovery.


• Conducting a coastal adaptation study, to better protect coastal areas in the long term.

• Studying the feasibility of an innovative underground drainage and reservoir system.

• Creating a fire probability index to help the authorities deal more efficiently with bush fires.

• Developing a heat index and advisories for the public to better plan outdoor activities.

• Reviewing the resilience of infrastructure against flooding and temperature changes.

• Studying the impact of higher temperatures and strong winds on buildings.

This article was first published on July 11, 2016.
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