The United Arab Emirates is the first Party to deposit their instrument of acceptance on 26 April 2013 that accepts Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol! The amendment is expected to enter into force after three quarters of the Parties to the Protocol submit their instruments of acceptance to the Depositary.
About the Doha Amendment
Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol by decision 1/CMP.8 in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Kyoto Protocol, at the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol held in Doha, Qatar, in December 2012.
On 21 December 2012, the amendment was circulated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations acting in his capacity as Depositary to all Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Protocol. The Depositary notification can be found here.
Pursuant to Article 21, paragraph 7 and Article 20, paragraph 4, the amendment is subject to acceptance by Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. In accordance with Article 20, paragraph 4, the amendment will enter into force for those Parties having accepted it on the ninetieth day after the date of receipt by the Depositary of an instrument of acceptance by at least three fourths of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
In paragraph 5 of decision 1/CMP.8, the CMP recognized that Parties may provisionally apply the amendment pending its entry into force in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Kyoto Protocol. The Parties intending to provisionally apply the amendment pending its entry into force may provide notification to the Depositary of their intention to provisionally apply the amendment.
The list below sets out the latest information concerning acceptances received by the Depositary, as well as information on notifications of provisional application.
Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention
Doha, 8 December 2012
Not yet in force: This amendment shall enter into force in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Kyoto Protocol.
Status: Parties: 0
Text: See the text of the Amendment in C.N.718.2012
Note: On 8 December 2012, at the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), held in Doha, Qatar, the Parties adopted, in accordance with Articles 20 and 21 of the Protocol, an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol by decision 1/CMP.8.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and his Polish counterpart Marcin Korolec have invited some 35 ministers from all regions of the world to participate in the fourth Petersberg Climate Dialogue from 5 to 7 May 2013. The goal of the dialogue is to facilitate informal discussions of key issues in international climate policy. It serves to complement the UN climate negotiations (not to duplicate or replace them) in order to lend greater momentum to the political process that underlies international climate action. Under the heading “Shaping the future”, the fourth dialogue meeting aims to make a constructive contribution to the next UN climate change conference (COP 19) in Warsaw at the end of the year, and beyond.
Minister Balakrishnan shared Singapore’s initiatives in energy conservation, fuel efficiency, green buildings, traffic management and research and development of clean environment technologies.
The focus of the dialogue was on the following questions:
- How can we shape an ambitious, effective and fair climate agreementwith active participation from all countries by 2015, and implement it from 2020?
- How can the UN climate process bring about more climate action at national level up to 2020, so that we can remain below the 2°C ceiling?
- How can international climate policy create effective incentives for more private investment to advance the transformation towards a low-emission economy?
- How can the climate change conference in Warsaw help us to achieve our main goals, and what are the most important milestones on the path to a new agreement in 2015?
Discussing these questions is intended to generate political momentum for international climate policy, which can then be translated into concrete progress in the UN negotiations this year.
The dialogue strives to achieve the following results:
- Potential elements of a new international climate agreement and different options for the type and structure of the agreement will be debated. There are already indications that different players have different ideas regarding the shape and role of a new climate agreement. A discussion at an early stage in the process will enhance understanding of the different options and their consequences, and will facilitate consensus.
- Important milestones are to be identified for the period up to 2015. These should cover the negotiations on a post-2020 agreement and the implementation and strengthening of national climate action with the goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2°C.
- Effective strategies are to be presented on how support and commitment by the general public can be ensured, in particular at national level. In this context, it will be important to explore how governments can give incentives to various stakeholders (e.g. the private sector or civil society) to back political decisions for more climate action and to make a greater contribution to the fight against climate change themselves.
Federal Environment Minister Altmaier and Polish Environment Minister Korolec will compile a political summary of the meeting (“co-chairs’ summary”) so that the results can feed directly into the UN negotiations. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will open the conference.
Context and background
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue – complementing the negotiations since 2010
Federal Chancellor Merkel initiated the Petersberg Climate Dialogue after theUN climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Germany has a long tradition (UN climate change conference in Berlin in 1995, EU and G8Presidency in 2007) as a political pioneer in international climate policy. Today, Germany shows with its Energiewende project how important it is to take concrete steps at the national level to implement the economic transformation towards a low-carbon future, thus being in a better position to fulfil international obligations. This approach can be a model for others.
The purpose of the dialogue is to advance international climate action at several levels:
- UN climate negotiations: Scheduled in the middle of the year, the dialogue gives ministers the opportunity for political reflection on the decisions taken at past UN conferences and for an open discussion on the desired outcome of the next UN conference(s). The Petersberg Climate Dialogue meetings in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 made it clear that ambitious climate policy must remain among the priorities of the international community.
- National climate policy of participating countries: The dialogue will also build a bridge between “implementation and negotiation”. It provides a platform for an exchange on the challenges countries face in the implementation and planning of national climate measures. The International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (measurement, reporting and verification, www.mitigationpartnership.net ) promotes international networking and practical exchange. The dialogue also helps players to use experience gained in the implementation of climate action for the UNclimate negotiations.
The initiative to establish the Petersberg Climate Dialogue originated in Germany. The meetings are co-chaired by Germany and the upcoming Presidency of the UN climate negotiations (Mexico in 2010, South Africa in 2011, Qatar in 2012 and Poland this year). Participants come from all regions of the world and all negotiating groups. Discussions are held in an informal style to facilitate an open and honest debate. Similar to the meetings in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Germany and its co-host have invited about 35 countries to this year’s conference. The diverse and representative character of the dialogue sends an important signal: all countries together should shoulder the responsibility for effective climate action and demonstrate joint leadership in the international arena.
Originally published by Melissa Low via the Energy Market Authority Singapore International Energy Week Perspectives website on 11 April 2013.
Together, Canada, Japan and Russia account for 29.2 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but the three countries had indicated they did not want to be obligated under the Kyoto Protocol beyond its first commitment period, which ended 31 December 2012. For Kyoto supporters, this is a symbolic blow and badly damages the UN climate process already weakened by divisions. But more importantly, what does this mean for Asia?
The move deals a major blow to the Convention on climate change, following the wrap-up of the most recent Doha climate talks and particularly when science is telling us that this is not the time for incremental action. To address the urgency of climate change, the process of negotiations has been targeting for a series of paramount decisions to emerge from the 2015 climate change talks, in hopes of ushering in a new era of response measures. The aim is to see a new protocol that will supersede the Kyoto Protocol by 2020.
Not surprisingly, the exit of major emitters is cause for concern. Their emission figures are stark –Canada accounts for 690 million metric tons CO₂ equivalent (MT CO₂ eq), Japan 1.122 billion metric tons CO₂ eq, and Russia 2.192 billion metric tonnes of CO₂ eq. Together, the trio account for around 11 percent of global emissions.
To avoid locking in an irreversible path to climate change and its potentially devastating effects, there is need to reform the global economy to a low-carbon footing. The recent Doha talks remind us all that multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol which sets binding obligations for 37 industrialised nations, can be a long-drawn and complicated process of achieving that low-carbon footing.
Furthermore, the future of the Kyoto Protocol–and indeed the entire climate regime–is on the line as big emitters formally withdraw their participation, putting the world at peril.
Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada was committed to reducing its GHG emissions to a level 17 percent below the 2005 level by year 2020. However, on 13 December 2011, Canada formally withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.
Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest emitter, is overhauling its energy policies after the Fukushima crisis dampened public confidence in nuclear power, with safety fears preventing a restart of reactors that had been shut for maintenance checks. Imports of oil and gas have soared as a result. Prior to the 11 March triple disaster, Japan had pledged to reduce emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels come 2020, on condition that other industrialised countries made similar pledges. Following the Fukushima fallout, Japan’s emissions have steadily increased due to the burning of fossil fuels. It is estimated that just two of Japan’s 54 reactors are online, a sharp reduction for an industry that once supplied 30 percent of the country’s electricity.
Not unexpectedly, on 10 December 2010, the Japanese indicated that they did not intend to be under the obligation of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
Russia, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the US also announced a year ago that it did not intend to assume the quantitative emissions limitation or reduction commitment (QELRC) that binds Annex I countries, for the second commitment period.
The main source of structural power for Russia in the climate negotiations is its status as a large economy that is rich in fossil fuels. It is one of the major emitters of GHGs (5.4 percent of the world’s total), and an important player in oil and gas markets with a 5.8 percent share of the world’s proven oil reserves and nearly a 24 percent share in the global gas reserves.
Russia’s support for climate cooperation was contingent on participation by the US, China, and other major economies. Thus, at the Doha talks, Russia had quickly sided with Japan, Canada, and the US in rejecting a second commitment period.
Pulling out of Kyoto now also allows countries to avoid penalties for missing targets. This means financial contributions will be reduced. Canada currently foots 3.2 percent of the total bill, with Japan at 12.53 percent and Russia at 1.6 percent. Canada is likely to save up to C$14 billion (S$17.64 billion) going forward.
While monetary contributions may not set the UN Secretariat back by much, the formal withdrawal of these countries may spark other industrialised nations to follow suit. The result would be detrimental to the climate change progress made since 1992.
The pulling out of major emitters means the UNFCCC will look to Asia’s largest emitters–China and India–to play an increasingly significant role in determining the success of the multilateral climate change regime. This is not only likely, but also a necessary option seeing that climate change will affect developing countries disproportionately more than rich ones. Tropical and subtropical lands are more sensitive to warming than cold or temperate countries, while rich countries can afford better flood controls and drought-resistant seeds than poor economies.
China has already overtaken the US as the world’s largest CO2 emitter. India is posed to overtake Russia as the third-largest emitter in the near future. Given their huge populations, which jointly cover almost two-fifth of the world population, it is hardly surprising the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that China and India will account for 45 percent of global energy demand growth by 2030.
The IEA also predicts that the two countries will be responsible for 80 percent of the increase in coal demand–China and India already produce a combined total of around 29 percent of the world’s emissions, and apart from Japan, are the only two Asian countries in the top 10 largest emitters of carbon dioxide globally.
That said, success at climate negotiations will not be forthcoming unless the key concerns of these Asian countries–particularly challenges pertaining to inequities–are sufficiently taken into account in the future development of climate change.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres looks ahead at what governments will be trying to achieve at the April 2013 Climate Change Conference in Bonn as they progress towards a universal climate agreement in 2015.
The Durban Platform process: sharpening the focus in 2013
In Doha, Parties agreed on major milestones for 2013-2015, including: to consider elements for a draft negotiating text by COP 20 and prepare a negotiating text before May 2015; and to identify, in 2013, options for actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap. To advance the negotiations, Parties further agreed in Doha to focus their work in 2013 (please see the report of the ADP.
As we have outlined in our informal note on the upcoming second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2), Parties are expected to shift gears this year to take the work to the next stage. In this article, we consider the process under the current two ADP workstreams – to deliver the 2015 agreement and to enhance current efforts and bridge the “ambition gap” – and how the upcoming session of the ADP can contribute to move its work to the next stage.
ADP on the road to COP 21
The ADP does not need to reinvent the wheel for the road ahead to 2015. Work is not starting from scratch. Governments should seek to build upon their achievements to date, ensure coherence, and maximize synergies. In order to keep Parties informed about relevant developments, we intend to hold regular briefings by the Chairs of SBSTA and SBI on ADP-related issues from the April session onwards.
Furthermore, climate change is being discussed in all countries and at all levels. The ADP could therefore benefit from involvement of Ministers and Heads of State and Government. Recognizing the need for high-level engagement, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced in Doha his intention to convene world leaders in 2014 to rally support for the 2015 agreement. Involvement of stakeholders is also very important to the ADP process. Stakeholders from various constituencies are strongly involved in efforts to combat climate change, and could contribute much in terms of knowledge, preparedness and resources.
Parties should begin to focus on the 2015 agreement, and keep broad aims in mind as we move forward. The agreement will be under the Convention and in the context of global political, social and economic change, as well as of existing policy frameworks. We therefore urge Parties to consider not just its scope, structure and design, but how the agreement fits into a bigger picture – what would be captured in the agreement, and how it could add value to current and future international and national action on climate change. We have therefore sought to design the upcoming session in a manner which allows Parties to start to focus on the outcome in 2015.
The second session of the ADP
The second session of the ADP will be held 29 April to 3 May at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany. Governments will need to focus on elements of the 2015 agreement and take a practical and results-orientated approach to identifying actions and initiatives to accelerate near-term action. It would also be useful to take a longer-term view on the process and consider what would be needed by the end of 2013 to keep the ADP on track under both workstreams.
In April, as announced in our informal note, we will advance the work in workshops and round tables. In keeping with the request by Parties in Doha, the note suggests focused questions to facilitate the workshop and round table discussions (see annex to the informal note.)
Workstream 1: 2015 agreement
For workstream 1, ADP established modalities of work, developed a plan of work, and began to clarify key issues and concerns that will need to be addressed to reach agreement by 2015. Parties are expected to deepen their exchange on the overall vision for the 2015 agreement, on the possible contours and architecture of the 2015 agreement, on how the principles of the Convention will be applied, commitments will be defined, and differing national circumstances will be taken into account. It is important to begin to identify the elements of the broader package surrounding the 2015 agreement that will ensure it is acceptable to all and can be implemented from 2020. This year, Parties will move from a conceptual phase to a content-forming phase in preparation for a “text-forming” stage in 2014.
In this workstream, we have made arrangements for a workshop on scope, structure and design of the 2015 agreement. This will be followed by round tables which would seek to advance and refine issues raised by the workshop with respect to specific subject areas, namely mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation, and transparency of actions and support.
Workstream 2: pre-2020 ambition
In 2012, Parties identified specific initiatives that could increase ambition; explored the role of means of implementation; and proposed further work to analyze mitigation benefits of the initiatives. Many emphasized that the workstreams should be separate but mutually supportive, and that adaptation is an important aspect of ambition.
In 2013, we received many proposals on how mitigation ambition could be enhanced, including increasing ambition of existing pledges and new pledges. Many stress the importance of adequate support. The proposals also call for recognizing supplementary actions and other initiatives, such as: renewable energy and energy efficiency; action by ICAO and IMO; reduction of fossil fuel subsidies; and addressing short-lived climate pollutants and HFCs. Many proposals highlight the importance of working with stakeholders, and the need to create opportunities to reduce the costs of mitigation.
In this workstream, we have made arrangements for two workshops on: low-emission development opportunities and opportunities for mitigation and adaptation related to land use. In addition, round table discussions will be held on catalyzing action and on building a practical and results-oriented approach to increasing pre-2020 ambition.
We believe that the format and issues under discussion at the upcoming session will allow Parties to focus their discussions and advance the negotiations. We remain committed to engaging with both Parties and stakeholders as we move ahead in advancing the Durban Platform.
Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate, 12 March 2013 (Part 2)
Originally published on 12 March 2013 by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
Infrastructure Investments Ahead of Time
Enhancing Resilience and Managing Water Costs
1 Let me quickly move onto water. Water is an existential issue for us, and that is why the two water agreements were part of the Separation Agreement that marks our independence as a nation. We have been obsessed about water for five decades, and our water story has been one of political will, meticulous long-term planning, technology innovation and sound economics.
2 Today, we have our four national taps and we are in a secure position. I can give assurance to this House that we will certainly be water- independent well before the expiry of the last agreement with Malaysia I can even go further than that and assure Ms Faizah Jamal that in fact, water is not going to be the limiting factor. You can produce as many babies as you like and you can build as many houses as you like, water will not be the limiting factor. We will continue to produce more than enough water for Singapore for the long-term future.
3 The second desalination plant in Tuas will be ready in July this year and that will add another 70 million gallons of water a day to our capacity. In the long run, desalination will meet about 25% of our water demand. We are also commencing on Phase 2 of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS). The DTSS is a superhighway for used water that will drain water from the western part of the island to a new water reclamation plant in Tuas, which will also produce NEWater in the future.
4 I will also just quickly address this point on the cost of water and the need for water conservation. I agree that water needs to be correctly priced to reflect its scarcity value and that it needs to facilitate long-term investments in this sector. There is a need therefore to constantly invest, and the key variable in the future for the cost of water is the cost of energy. I cannot predict what the future cost of water will be without knowing what the cost of energy will be. But what I can say, is that on our current trajectory and with the hard work that is being done by PUB, there is no need to raise water prices this year.
Sustainable Waste Management System
5 Let me now move on to waste, which Ms Faizah Jamal has raised.
We have made some changes. We have reduced the number of Public Waste Collection sectors from nine to six in order to improve economies of scale. Again, I am trying to bring the cost of waste collection down whilst recognising that the cost of energy, transport, trucks and all that is also going up.
6 We are also building a new Waste-to-Energy incineration plant to maximise resource recovery and to reduce landfill space. If I could show the picture of Pulau Semakau, you would see that we already have the area marked out for Phase II. Again, I can give the House the assurance that we are good to go until 2035. In fact, the beauty of Pulau Semakau is that it is probably the only landfill in the world that is a tourist attraction. Just last December, the Prime Minister himself went there and if you go to his Facebook page, you will find some beautiful pictures of that site. So the point is, it can be done, it will be there for the long term and it can be beautiful at the same time.
Co-creating Sustainable Growth
Engendering greater Non-Domestic Water and Energy Efficiency
7 Dr Teo Ho Pin asked about water and energy efficiency and on an update on the Energy Conservation Act (ECA). This act requires large energy users to implement energy management practices. It will come into effect in April this year for the industry sector and will be rolled out for the transport sector subsequently.
8 We will continue to work with companies, incentivise them and provide schemes such as the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (GREET) as well as extending the Singapore Certified Energy Manager training grant. All those will enhance capability and technology.
9 PUB will also continue to encourage non-domestic users to develop and submit Water Efficiency Management Plans to help them analyse and potentially save water.
Conserving Energy and Water in Households
10 Let me quickly move on to households –energy and water usage. The Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) and the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have been very effective in expanding the range of higher energy-efficient appliances on the market and making them more affordable. Quite frankly, people will save money in the medium to long run if they buy more energy-efficient appliances, whether it is air- conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and the like. We also need to encourage people to look beyond the initial sticker price to the total cost of ownership.
Reducing Household Waste
11 Let me move on to reducing household waste. Our recycling rate in households, to be honest, is still not good enough. In fact, in survey after survey, people have said they want to recycle but for some reason, this is not translated into practice. We will continue to make recycling facilities more convenient for households by enhancing recycling infrastructure in neighbourhoods. In some new HDB flats, we have even tried to pilot projects with dual-refuse and recycling chutes in order to make it more convenient, and some early data shows that this perhaps may increase recycling rates.
12 I want to agree with Ms Penny Low’s suggestion about trying to promote a less wasteful culture, and a more sharing culture. This concept about “reuse, reduce and recycle” used to be in our value system. I think all of us can remember our parents saying “Don’t waste!” But somehow, perhaps as we became more prosperous, we have forgotten that imperative. I think in the future, the era of cheap energy, cheap resources, cheap food, is going to come to an end. And we will have to rediscover the wisdom of our grandmothers of not wasting.
13 Having said that, I also support your idea that we can promote more community-generated solutions for this. I give you one example –NEA is organising a ‘Clean & Green Hackathon’ next month. Basically, we will be setting aside time and awarding prizes to people who come together and devise apps which can be used on smartphones. It is basically to create platforms for people to share ideas and to use these ideas to improve the environment.
14 Let me quickly, in the last few minutes, touch on a Sustainable Singapore. There is just one point I want to make that is counter-intuitive. A very dense, well-planned city is actually the most sustainable way of life for human beings. Many people think being green means living in a rural area. But if you stop to think about it, living in a dense city is the cheapest way of providing food, water, healthcare, education, jobs, entertainment, ideas and cultural exchange, simply because you have to move around less. So in fact, the future for humankind –we now have 7 billion people, more than half of the people live in cities. By the turn of the century, 80 percent of us will live in cities –a dense well-planned, connected city which is the greenest and most sustainable way of life for the future.
15 Singapore can take the lead. One key unique feature about Singapore is that if you fly over Singapore, a lot of it is green. Almost 47% of Singapore is green. But why is it green? It is green paradoxically because we are so high-rise, because nearly 90 percent of us live in apartments. The point I am trying to make is that if you really think about sustainability in the long run, the answer lies here, and in Singapore, we are building a working model of the future.
16 Now of course this working model of the future has to take into account long-term threats like climate change. You ask whether we are worried about rising sea levels. Yes, we are. We are anticipating that it could go up by anywhere between 60cm to a metre, and beyond. And that is why last year, we changed our platform levels for all reclaimed land – we added another metre. So all reclaimed land now will be at least 2.25 metres above the highest-recorded sea level. This is buying insurance for the future. If it does not happen, treat it as a sandbag. If it does happen, we will prepare, and we have to prepare to adapt faster, and be aware of what is going on in science.
17 That is also why the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) has established the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) which will officially open later this month. This centre will collaborate with researchers from all over the world in order to spearhead studies. Their academic and scientific output will be the basis on which we make plans for the future. We initiated the first Climate Change Vulnerability Study in 2007 to give us a better sense of what is going on. This study, conducted over two phases, has just been completed and we will be embarking on the next phase soon. This will be a joint project between CCRS and the UK Met Office, Hadley Centre.
18 So let me conclude by reiterating our core principles –that this is about human beings –our responsibility, our vulnerability, and that we are all in this together and that we have to plan for the very long term.
Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate, 12 March 2013
Originally published on 12 Mar 2013 by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
1 The Ministry’s mission is to secure public health, to upgrade the quality of life for all Singaporeans, to foster an inclusive society and to ensure Singapore’s resilience in the long term, the very long term.
3 I believe it is worthwhile spending a few moments contemplating the key principles behind all the work of the Ministry. First, our primary concern is really the welfare of human beings. I know many people talk about protecting Mother Earth, protecting the environment. But let me be quite frank. The Earth will survive human beings, no matter what we do to it. What is at greater risk are human beings and the welfare of human beings. So really, human beings are both responsible for protecting the environment as well as being exquisitely vulnerable to the damage that we cause to the environment. The point I am making is that we do all these for the sake of ourselves. When we protect the environment, we are protecting ourselves and our children.
4 The second key principle is that we are all in this together. This is ultimate democracy – we all breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat the same food, and are susceptible to the same dengue or leptospirosis or all the other diseases which we are environmentally susceptible to. The point is that we are all equal before the environment. In fact, one very gratifying point is that I am glad that in this House, that there has been bipartisan support for the work of this Ministry.
5 The third principle is that we have to think long-term. For water, for waste and in fact, for all the major infrastructural projects of our Ministry, we think 50 years and beyond. And we have to make long term investments, and cannot just kick the can down the road.
6 Allow me now to address some of the specific issues which members have highlighted.
Building a Quality Living Environment
7 We set very high environmental standards for Singapore. Not because this is an ideological obsession or because it is fashionable, but because this is an obligation in the governance of a dense city-state. Paying attention to the environment is an investment in our future and our health. Even our economic viability depends on it. For instance, our high quality environment is a key competitive strength and it is the reason why companies and people decide to base their families and situate their headquarters in this safe, secure, liveable and loveable city called Singapore. So it is not a trade-off between the economy and environment, in fact, it is a virtuous cycle.
Good Air Quality
8 A clean environment starts with the air we breathe. I know we often take this for granted, but when you start experiencing scenes – one of them is the scene from the volcanic eruption in Iceland (I remembered that because I got stuck in London and could not fly for few days as a result of that). The other scene you will recognise is the smog in Beijing. We quibble here about the PSI being 10 or 20 but over there, we talk about a PSI of 500. So you know it and you appreciate it when you miss it.
9 Mr Charles Chong and Mr Nicholas Fang asked about measures to improve air quality. Last August, we had announced that Singapore would adopt new air quality targets, back to the more stringent WHO air quality guidelines by 2020. We have not actually yet reached those targets, and that is why we need to step up our game and enhance standards.
10 So for instance, in order to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, MEWR and MTI are jointly working with the major emitters, and as Mr Nicholas Fang has said, in fact the only six suspects in the room, as far as sulphur dioxide is concerned. We are working directly with the power generators as well as the oil refineries, to improve their processes and to invest in appropriate technology. Quite frankly, technological solutions are available – it is a matter of cost and liability. And in the case of the electricity-generating companies, a switch to natural gas has been a big benefit for the environment.
11 We are also concerned about Fine Particulate Matter, in particular, what we call PM2.5, smaller than 2.5 microns. The paradox here is in fact, it is the stuff that you do not see that is more dangerous, because PM2.5 is inhaled deeply into the lungs embedded in those tissues, and often never leaves our bodies. Vehicles account for 57% of all PM2.5 that we have in Singapore. We have progressively tightened standards for diesel vehicles for the past six years. And, we will next impose Euro V standards for all new diesel vehicles, with effect from 1 Jan 2014. I think Mr Charles Chong asked for the percentage of Euro V-compliant diesel vehicles that are currently on the roads. It is very small – there are only about 3,400 of such vehicles on the road, but over the years to come, we hope with these new standards in place, the fleet will gradually be replaced.
12 Speaking of replacement of the fleet, we currently have 38,000 very old diesel commercial vehicles of pre-Euro or pre-Euro I emissions standards. You see, commercial diesel vehicles have a statutory lifespan of 20 years, so that means they actually have a very long tail. The Ministry of Transport and my Ministry will be implementing an Early Turnover Scheme which will incentivise the owners of these old commercial diesel vehicles to retire them early and to upgrade them to vehicles that meet the new Euro V emissions standards. We will provide more details of this scheme within the next two months.
13 We also need to deal with motorcycles. There are more than 143,000 motorcycles in Singapore and most of them are of Euro 1 standard. We will be raising the emissions standards for all new motorcycles to the Euro III standards with effect from 1 Oct 2014. These new motorcycles will emit less than a fifth of the pollutants compared to the current fleet.
14 Finally, we also need to address air pollution from beyond our shores, as Mr. Nicholas Fang and Mr. Charles Chong have emphasised. This is a chronic recurrent problem and as I have said before; in fact, this is a commercial problem. It is cheaper unfortunately, for our plantation owners to clear land by burning forests, and unfortunately, a lot of this land is on peatland which continues to burn subterranean, for weeks or months thereafter. Working with our fellow Ministers and Ministries in ASEAN, we are trying to put pressure on these companies by the use of technology such as digital geo-referenced concession maps and satellite and other mapping technologies so that ultimately, we can name and shame the culprits for engaging in such anti-environment and anti-social activities.
Developing Community Spaces
Expanding the ABC Waters Programme
15 Let me now turn to the ABC Waters programme. I totally agree with Dr Teo Ho Pin that this has been a programme which has been very welcomed by members of the public who have gained access to our reservoirs. We have converted canals into riverine attractions in their own right. I will take his suggestion about improving car parking, toilets and facilities, and catering facilities specifically to different segments of our population – the seniors, the children, as well as the long-distance joggers. We will make sure that we will interconnect these ABC or what I call blue ribbons of water, with the national green park connector network, so that you will be able to have access throughout the island and you can run many marathons along these routes.
16 We have completed 20 projects so far, but the good news is that in fact we have identified about 100 sites that could potentially be developed over the next 15 to 20 years. I am not saying we can do all 100, but I am saying there is potential to do many more sites.
17 The ABC programmes have encouraged new lifestyle activities in many of our waterways and the surrounding lands, such as the Sengkang Floating Wetlands project at the Punggol Reservoir and the urban wetlands at the Alexandra Canal. PUB will continue to work with NParks on more of such projects, including mega projects like the Bishan-Toa Payoh Park.
18 I am pleased to update Mr Heng Chee How who has asked for his own constituency, that PUB will explore another ABC project along the stretch between Whampoa Drive and Kim Keat Road, taking into account the opportunities that will open up when there are new developments such as the new HDB project opposite the Whampoa Community Club.
19 There are three more ABC projects which are due for completion later this year, at Sungei Pandan, Sungei Ulu Pandan and the Geylang River. Construction will begin on another 5 projects later this year, at Sungei Tampines, Sungei Api Api, Kallang River (next to St Andrew’s School) and Siglap Canal.
20 Between 2014 and 2017, construction will commence on new projects at the Kallang Riversideand the Jurong Lake.
Developing and Enhancing Hawker Centres
21 Let me now move to a topic which Er Lee Bee Wah, Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Mr Liang Eng Hwa, and indeed many members of this House have focused on and it is something close to our hearts, or more accurately, closer to our stomachs –hawker centres. They are a source of livelihood for our hawkers and a space where all Singaporeans have access to delicious, freshly cooked food at affordable prices.
22 We started off as a hygiene project – to move mobile hawkers with no running water and questionable sanitation, into centres where you have running water, in order to improve public hygiene. But over the years, hawker centres have become part of our uniquely Singapore identity, and the fact that we can go there in our slippers, shorts and tee-shirts, reflects the informality of life in Singapore. And the fact that all of us, including politicians on both sides of the House, go to hawker centres to meet people, also reflects that multicultural cohesion and that uniqueness of Singapore life, the way it is today.
23 So, hawker centres are an essential part of our social infrastructure. More than half (55%) of our cooked food hawkers today currently pay subsidised rents. What this means is, that these are the original hawkers, or their immediate family members who have inherited the practice from them, and they have, as I have said earlier, resettled from the original mobile stalls.
24 The more recent hawkers, the other 45%, are people who came in later, in the decade since then, and one question then is on what basis do you allocate these stalls? The newcomers have been allocated stalls on the basis of open tenders – in the interest of fairness. Their rents, therefore, vary according to locations. So for instance, if you are going to bid for a stall in Newton hawker centre or Maxwell, it will be much higher than the stall in Taman Jurong or one elsewhere. It varies according to location, food type, traffic, size, frontage and business conditions overall.
25 In 2011, we announced that, after a hiatus of 26 years, we would restart the hawker centre building programme. And I announced where the new hawker centres will be, and in case you asked me on what basis you chose those dots (on the map of hawker centres), those were areas which are relatively underserved with respect to cooked food. My objective of restarting this programme and injecting supply was to put downward pressure on rentals.
26 In addition to the fact that there is new supply coming on, we also changed policy. For instance, we removed reserve rents and this has led to falling tender prices. 55% of the stalls awarded in the past one year were awarded at below their previous reserve rents. Successful tenders as low as $21 for a cooked food stall at Taman Jurong and $5 for a market stall at Changi Village, have emerged.
27 That said, I want to make this point, that rent is only one component of the hawker’s operating costs; in fact, raw materials and cost of labour are higher component costs of a hawker centre. Rents are important but not the key game. In fact, I went to check on the vegetarian beehoon that Mr. Png Eng Huat highly recommended. I went there yesterday, unfortunately it was closed at 2pm, but I then did research. I identified nine other vegetarian beehoon stalls along Jalan Bukit Merah and guess what? The two stalls selling at $1.50 are paying market rates. The three stalls who are enjoying subsidised rents are charging more than that. I think it makes the point that rental is important, but not the key determinant of prices. Ultimately, hawkers will charge what they think the market will bear, and to reach out to the volume of work that they are aiming for.
28 But besides the rent policy, we also changed the rules on subletting and assignment because we wanted hawkers to personally operate their stalls. And we will uphold this principle even as we pilot new not-for-profit management models. I think Mr Seah Kian Peng in his Budget speech gave a very eloquent explanation for the special role of cooperatives like the NTUC Foodfare and I cannot add to what he has already said. But having said that, I want to say that Foodfare will not have a monopoly on the new hawker centres and in fact, I hope to see several different not-for-profit operators enter this space.
29 NEA will continue to be the regulator, the developer and exercise oversight over of all hawker centres in Singapore. I am pleased to inform Er Lee that planning works have begun on the ten new hawker centres – five will be completed between 2015 and 2016 or thereabouts, including the one at Yishun. So, it will be on time, do not worry.
30 Mr Seah has also asked for an update on wet markets. The new hawker centres like the one at Bukit Panjang will have wet markets selling fresh produce. But I want to caution here – that whilst I am very confident that there is a demand for cooked food, the demand patterns for wet markets are not so clear cut. So this is something which we will evolve as time goes on, and we will respond according to demand.
31 Let me now touch on another point which Er Lee brought up. The nearly 2,000 hawkers who bought their sole stalls about 20 years ago and their leases are coming to an end over the next few years. All of these centres will continue to operate after their leases expire. There may need to be a short period, where we will need to do refurbishments, renovations or redevelopment, but I will ensure that there will be centres.