Committee of Supply Debate 2010: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, gave their speeches during the Committee of Supply Debate under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

Here are some key points that they raised:

At Copenhagen, Singapore supported the Accord, and has since written to the UNFCCC Secretariat to associate ourselves formally with the Accord as a good basis for advancing negotiations towards reaching a legally binding global agreement on climate change. Though the Accord as it stands does not create legal obligations, it contains important elements that can facilitate the on-going negotiations. To date, about 100 out of the 194 Parties to the UNFCCC have associated themselves with the Accord. About 30 non-Annex I countries, including Singapore, have also tabled their emission reduction targets.

To play our part in international efforts to mitigate climate change, Singapore has pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 16% from the 2020 business-as-usual scenario. This target is contingent on a legally binding global agreement in which all countries implement their commitments in good faith. Our target is credible and rigorous given our past efforts to reduce emissions and the constraints we face as a city-state, including our limited potential to adopt renewable energy.It is a substantial commitment by Singapore. Achieving it will involve considerable costs, and changes in lifestyle and business practices.

BCA will increase the mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards for Green Mark certified new buildings by 10% from today’s standards by the end of this year, and will also mandate the submission of building energy usage data from 2011.

Our consultations with large energy users indicate that a wide range of energy management practices exists today. We therefore see the need for minimum standards to ensure greater management attention is paid to energy. While this will ultimately benefit companies in terms of cost-savings, we also recognise the need to give companies sufficient lead-time to prepare.

By 2013, we will require companies in the industry sector consuming more than the equivalent of 15 GWh of energy each year to appoint an energy manager, monitor and report energy use to NEA, and develop and submit energy efficiency improvement plans. NEA will be consulting the companies involved on the detailed requirements.

To ensure a smooth transition, NEA will introduce the Energy Efficiency National Partnership, or EENP, in April to help companies build up the necessary capabilities before the mandatory energy management practices come into effect. We will also be reviewing our incentive schemes and exploring long-term energy efficiency financing options to cater to the needs of companies.

These energy management requirements for industry and energy efficiency-related legislation in other sectors will be consolidated in an Energy Conservation Act that will come into force in 2013. The Act allows for a co-ordinated approach to standards-setting for energy efficiency across all sectors, and will represent a major milestone in the government’s efforts to develop energy efficiency as a competitive advantage for Singapore.

As I announced last year, minimum energy performance standards or MEPS will be implemented for household air-conditioners and refrigerators in 2011.MEPS will remove the most energy inefficient air-conditioners and refrigerators from the market. Depending on the appliance category, all 0-tick models and some 1- and 2-tick models will be removed, representing about 20% of current sales volumes. A sufficient range of brands and models will remain available for consumer choice.

MEPS will help consumers save on electricity bills and is not expected to significantly increase the upfront cost of air-conditioners and refrigerators. A more efficient fridge that costs the same as one phased out by MEPS can save a household about $130 a year. When all the existing air-conditioners and refrigerators in Singapore comply with the MEPS standards, consumers will enjoy a total energy savings of about $20milannually.

We will tighten the MEPS standards over time. We will also consider extending MEPS to more appliances, such as lighting and televisions.

The public sector will continue to take the lead on environmental sustainability measures. From FY11, all Ministries will set energy savings targets. We will continue to study new measures that can be implemented.

In 2007, NEA commissioned a study involving local and foreign experts to understand our vulnerabilities to climate change.

The first phase of the study covering the physical impacts of climate change has concluded. The results have been peer reviewed by international experts who noted that the study adopted well-established methodologies and that the findings are plausible.

The study projects that the average daily temperature in Singapore could increase by between 2.7 to 4.2°C from the current average of 26.8°C by 2100 and the mean sea level around Singapore could rise by 24 to 65 cm by 2100. These findings are within the range of our expectations and consistent with global projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Source: MEWR

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