7 Suggestions for Public Consultation on Climate Change and Singapore

The government is conducting a public consultation for Singapore’s plan to reduce carbon emissions and promote green growth beyond 2020. You can give your feedback to the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) by 31 Mar 2015.

Here’s our suggestions that was submitted to NCCS:

1. Introduce basic carbon footprint reporting and benchmarking for companies

There is currently no comprehensive data and information on the carbon footprint of companies in Singapore and their performance as compared to peers in the same industry. This results in minimal pressure for companies to put in effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

The government can consider a mandatory framework on basic carbon footprint reporting and benchmarking for companies. This reporting framework should be simple and easy to adopt so that it does not add too much burden for companies. One such existing framework is the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, which sets the standard for how to measure, manage, and report greenhouse gas emissions.

The government can consider adopting the GHG Protocol as the framework for a company to prepare a carbon inventory of its business operations for Scope 1 (direct GHG emissions) and Scope 2 (electricity indirect GHG emissions), which would be made mandatory. Scope 3 (other indirect GHG emissions) should be optional for companies as it might require too much effort to calculate.

With the carbon footprint data, companies can be benchmarked against their peers in the same industry. This would allow companies to understand how they are performing and motivate them to take more action to reduce their carbon footprint (and try to be the best or not to be the last). If the data is made available to the public or investors, this would also help increase their carbon reduction efforts.

2. Form a committee to focus on excessively cold air-conditioning in buildings

It is quite common to hear feedback about the problem of excessively cold air-conditioning in buildings in Singapore. It also becomes embarrassing for organisers of climate change or sustainability-related events when participants comment on the cold air-conditioning in the room or building.

Some building owners use a central air-conditioning system (where the temperature in one room cannot be adjusted individually) and they usually set a lower temperature setting to compensate for inadequate air distribution in some rooms or areas. The mindset is that it is better to be too cold than too hot.

The government has to ensure that building owners stick to the recommended indoor temperature range of 23-25ºC. It should also study how buildings with central air-conditioning can better control the HVAC system and optimise air distribution. The government can consider forming a committee made up of engineers and designers (focus on the technical issues) and building owners and occupants (focus on behaviour change and incentives issues) to reduce the problem.

3. Set Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard for power generation companies

The government can consider setting a mandatory Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), which requires power generation companies to implement energy efficiency programmes to offset a portion of the increase in customer electricity demand.

The cost of implementing the energy efficiency programmes would be offset by the operational savings over time, thus ensuring that the costs would not be passed on to the customers. The EEPS would help to reduce the load growth, achieve energy savings, lower customer utility bills, and increase jobs for those providing energy efficiency services.

4. Reduce building facade and outdoor lighting at night

Buildings are lit up at night with facade lighting and outdoor advertising, which can be excessive and unnecessary. There is nobody to see and enjoy the lighting at night.

To reduce unnecessary night lighting, it should be mandated for building owners to reduce their outdoor lighting from 1 to 6am, and to have a limit on the maximum lighting watts or lumens per square metre.

5. Develop a master plan on usage of rooftops for energy and food

With increased (and competitive) use of rooftops of public and private buildings in Singapore for solar panels, rooftop greenery and gardens, and urban farms, it is time for the government to set clear guidelines or develop a master plan on the usage of rooftops.

The government has to consider whether to encourage more roof spaces on buildings used to generate solar energy, to have rooftop greenery, or to grow food crops. In addition, the government has to assess whether these activities are competing for rooftop space or are complementary, and research on the methods and technologies for combining these activities to maximise the benefits yet adhere to the load limit and fire safety requirements.

URA, BCA, HDB, AVA, NParks, SCDF and EDB can work together on the master plan to map out the available rooftop space in Singapore, and coordinate and maximise the use for both generating energy and growing food.

6. Encourage carsharing and buspooling

There are now innovative carsharing platforms such as ShareTransport, RYDE, Tripda and iCarsClub in Singapore that make it easier for people to share or pool their car rides, or share their cars. ShareTransport can also customise private bus routes for office workers or students to buspool to their common destinations.

The government can encourage the use of these technology platforms, which help to reduce car ownership and road congestion. This is also in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.

7. Focus on the top 3 energy consuming appliances for households

The top 3 appliances in terms of highest energy consumption for households are air-conditioners, refrigerators and water heaters, which can make up to 50-80% of energy consumed in an average household.

The government should focus on these 3 appliances and start a targeted campaign to provide more tips and support for residents to reduce the energy consumption of these appliances. The tips could include buying energy efficient models with the Energy Label; how to maintain air-conditioners and refrigerators; how to use the appliances in an energy efficient manner; switching to fans; or using a gas water heater.

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