Speech by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources at Committee of Supply Debate 2009

February 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Strategy and Leaders

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, gave his speech at the annual Committee of Supply Debate yesterday in Parliament. He covered the following topics:

  • Sustainable Development & Resource Efficiency
  • Climate Change, Energy Efficiency & Solar Energy
  • Managing Water Demand
  • Recycling
  • Enhancing Capabilities and Building Long-Term Competitiveness
  • Air Quality
  • Noise
  • Dengue & Chikungunya
  • Public Cleanliness and Littering
  • Hawker Centres
  • Cleanliness of Food Outlets, Toilets and Waste Collection
  • ABC Waters Programme & Marina Barrage

Summary of Key Issues

Given the global downturn, the ability to grow the economy in a sustainable way has become more, not less, relevant. Continuing to achieve good growth while maintaining a good environment will require first, the prudent use of natural resources, second, building capability in the environmental sector, and third, protecting our environment to ensure environmental standards do not slip, and even improve.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD) will release its report in March, including the $1 billion budget for sustainable development.

The preliminary results of the 2-year study by NEA to understand the long-term effects of climate change, indicate that Singapore’s existing infrastructure is sufficient to address the risks in the short to medium term.

Companies are already implementing energy efficiency measures with funding such as the Design for Efficiency scheme to co-fund workshops to design energy efficient facilities, and the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies to co-fund up to 50% of the cost of energy efficient equipment or technology.

The government is taking the lead on energy efficiency and is on track to meet its goal of conducting energy audits for all government buildings with more than 15,000 square metres of air-conditioned floor area by March 2010.

NEA will implement Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for household air-conditioners and refrigerators by 2011 to remove the least efficient models (1-tick and 2-tick range) from the market.

Solar energy is still more costly than conventional grid electricity generated from fossil fuels, but prices are expected to come down as the technology matures. To build up our capabilities for future adoption when it is cost-effective to do so, we will continue to research and test-bed such new technologies.

The Four National Taps strategy provides Singapore with NEWater and desalinated water options during dry weather, thus improving the drought resilience of the water supply system. But it is still important for Singaporeans to conserve water and use it efficiently.

Taps, urinals and dual-flush low capacity flushing cisterns (LCFCs) installed in new developments and existing premises undergoing renovation from July 2009 must have at least a one-tick water efficiency rating. In addition, all new domestic premises and existing ones undergoing renovation have to use dual-flush LCFCs from July 2009.

For water efficiency projects under the Water Efficiency Fund, PUB has increased the co-funding for SMEs from 50% to 80% of the cost of qualifying projects. PUB will also help SMEs to defray part of the retrofitting costs involved in switching to NEWater, and help them reduce their water bills by providing free constant flow regulators and spray nozzles.

The participation rate in the National Recycling Programme (NRP) has increased from 15% in 2001 to 63% in 2008.

Since 2007, there are 1,600 centralized recycling bins at HDB estates and one for every five blocks of HDB flats. The average amount of recyclables collected from each set of bins increased from 65 kg per month in 2007 to 103 kg per month for 2008.

NEA targets to achieve full implementation for the mandatory provision of recycling receptacles in condominium and private apartments by the end of 2009.

Singapore’s recycling rate has improved from 40% in 2000 to 56% in 2008 and we are on track to meet the Singapore Green Plan 2012 target of 60%.

NEA will be launching a $8 million 3R Fund to co-fund new waste minimisation and recycling projects. The fund will co-fund up to 80% of qualifying costs and subject to a cap of $1 million per project.

We are aware that some developed countries have used legislation to mandate recycling. In view of the current economic downturn, we are not looking at introducing legislation in the near future as it would likely increase costs for businesses and households. However, in the longer term, we will study the use of legislation to further improve our recycling rate.

The Ministry is developing a plan to turn Semakau landfill into an Eco Park, where companies can conduct field testing of renewable and clean technologies.

The Green Vehicle Rebate (GVR) Scheme will be extended by another 2 years till 31 December 2011. Through the GVR scheme, the number of green vehicles such as CNG and hybrid vehicles has increased to more than 5,400 as at end 2008. This is about 1% of the total car population.

There are now 3 CNG refuelling stations and this is expected to increase to 5 by the end of this year with the opening of stations at Serangoon North and Toh Tuck.

Under the ABC Waters Programme, 27 projects will be carried out across Singapore by 2012 to transform our drains, canals and reservoirs into beautiful and clean streams, rivers and lakes integrated into our neighbourhoods.

We have a shared responsibility to ensure sustainable development. Companies can develop and deploy technologies and products that are more environmentally- friendly than today, and incorporate environmental considerations into their operations and procedures. Citizens must embrace a lifestyle that considers the environment and limits resource consumption in their daily lives. Government will promote sustainability by setting an example, demonstrating our commitment, and involving people.

Sustainable development is a long-term process with long-term objectives. It means focusing on the horizon, rather than quick fixes; targeting prevention now, rather than putting right later; caring for the environment as part of our choices today, rather than dealing with the consequences of neglect down the line.

Source: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

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