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S'pore lays out plan to address challenges of climate change

President Tony Tan unveils Climate Action Plan to cut emissions, adapt to climate shifts

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Cities have to take the lead in finding solutions to address challenges brought about by changing weather patterns, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Sunday.


CITIES have to take the lead in finding solutions to address challenges brought about by changing weather patterns, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Sunday, as he announced the release of Singapore's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Among some new measures announced in the Climate Action Plan are a target to achieve improvements in energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector by 1-2 per cent a year from 2020 to 2030, and plans to upgrade critical infrastructure such as Changi Airport to prepare for an increase in average sea levels.

"In recent times we have seen floods that have deluged cities in Europe, monster storms affecting several Australian cities and heat waves that have hit cities in India," said Dr Tan at the joint opening of the World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit at Marina Bay Sands. "Cities have to lead the way in finding innovative urban solutions to address these challenges."

The Climate Action Plan, he added, outlines bold steps that Singapore is taking to achieve its 2030 carbon mitigation plan and to strengthen its resilience to climate change.

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Singapore has pledged to reduce emissions intensity - measured by emissions per GDP (gross domestic product) dollar - by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise emissions with the goal of peaking then. The industry sector accounted for 59 per cent of Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions in 2012; the petroleum refining, chemicals and semiconductor sectors made up the bulk of these emissions.

The new target of 1-2 per cent compares with the 0.7 per cent energy efficiency improvement rates that 160 energy-intensive manufacturers - accounting for more than half of Singapore's total energy use - clocked in in 2014 and last year.

An energy efficiency study in 2014 found potential for further energy savings of about 20 per cent by 2030 within the industry sector, said the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS).

"Significant energy efficiency opportunities were identified in the petroleum, petrochemical and semiconductor sub-sectors, in areas such as exhaust gas heat recovery, combustion optimisation for furnaces and improved catalysts," it said in the Climate Action Plan.

To achieve the new target, the government will conduct regular reviews of the Energy Conservation Act and study policy options for reducing non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions and adopting cleaner fuels within the industry sector.

Government agencies are also studying the implications of increased flooding and temperature changes for critical infrastructure.

Singapore's meteorologists have projected that daily average temperatures in the country are likely to rise by 1.4°-4.6° Celsius, and average sea level by 0.25m to 0.76m by the end of the century. There will be more intense and frequent heavy rainfall coupled with more pronounced dry seasons.

Already, Changi's new Terminal 5 is being built 5.5 metres above the average sea level, much higher than the four metres required for new land reclamation. To cater for more intense storms and a higher sea level, the drainage infrastructure at the airport is being upgraded. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is also conducting a study to develop adaptation measures for airport infrastructure, NCCS revealed.

The relevant government agencies are reviewing the resilience of Singapore's transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure, and will tap the expertise of external consultants where necessary, it added.

"In dealing with the environmental challenges, we can look to our past to find inspiration for the future," said Dr Tan, pointing to how Singapore's investments in NEWater and desalination plants over the last two decades have provided the country some security against climate-change threats.

Singapore will complete its fifth NEWater factory this year, and two more desalination plants - on top of its current two - by 2019. It is also studying the feasibility of developing a fifth plant on Jurong Island.

These investments will boost Singapore's water supply capacity from alternative sources to 85 per cent by 2060, Dr Tan noted.

READ MORE: What S'pore considers when urban planning

INFOGRAPHIC: Gearing up for climate change

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