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Singapore Rejects Emissions Cuts

October 31, 2009

As you can see from the article below, the economic development versus emissions cuts debate still fluorishes.

It’s no secret–keeping to the 350 target will require change and steps—no matter how incremental—which will have to begin now. Individuals, companies and policy makers will have to make sacrifices on many levels. We will have to find new solutions to increase energy efficiency, increase Singapore’s ability to utilize renewable resources [The government’s constant refrain is that Singapore is unusually unsuited for many sources of renewable energy (wind, solar, water) due to land constrains and our geographic location (humidity dampens efficiency of solar power)] and encourage our industries to seek clean and sustainable ways of functioning. We will have to make lifestyle changes too.

But being climate conscious also offers limitless possibilities for scientific development, innovation, new business models, new industries, new and better jobs for Singaporeans—all these are cornerstones/foundations of economic development. Singapore and Singaporeans could gain a lot in the long run. It gels with our leader’s vision to position ourselves at the forefront of science and to revitalize our economy.

The Harvard Business Review has hailed the green economy and sustainable business models as “the key driver of innovation.” Many CEOs, particularly those in the US and Europe, believe that sustainability isn’t the burden on bottom lines that many assume it to be. The old notion that companies have to choose between “largely social” benefits of developing sustainable products or processes and the financial costs of doing so has been proven wrong. In Harvard’s long term study of over 30 large corporations, its research shows that sustainability is the mother lode of organizational and technological innovation that yields bottom line returns.

Becoming environment-friendly lowers costs because companies end up reducing the inputs they use. In addition, the process generates additional revenues from better products or enables companies to create new businesses.  In fact, because those are the goals of corporate innovation, Harvard has found that smart companies now treat sustainability as innovation’s new frontier.

Companies like HP and Unilever have benefitted from complying with environmental standards, resulting in reduced costs and higher bottom lines through innovation in product quality, design and for Unilever—higher crop yields and seed production. Despite the global downturn, FedEX is replacing its old aircraft with Boeing 757s as part of its Fuel Sense program, thereby reducing the company’s fuel consumption by 36% while increasing capacity by 20%.

It’s clear–companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. Companies are nimble enough to comply to environmental standards and can even benefit from it. The resulting increase in their bottom lines will have a positive effect on jobs and our economy should we also foster these changes.

So apart from NOT being mutually exclusive from the goal of economic development, subscribing to emissions reductions provides opportunities. Yes, there are sacrifices to be made and YES, there will be short term discomforts, constrains and adaptations that will have to happen.

But this is MORE than just another international obligation set out to limit us.  At the end of the day, these targets that we should be a part of are really part of a vision for the kind of future and the type of people we will be.  These are crucial moral questions that affect not only our but many others’ survivability and viability. In a world where change is the only constant, we have to ask ourselves, is backstopping a crucial agreement who really are and what we really stand for?

Singapore rejects emission cuts


‘We’ll do our part but not at growth’s expense’
Amresh Gunasingham, Straits Times 30 Oct 09;

SINGAPORE sent a strong signal yesterday that it will not be prepared to accept any emissions cuts as part of a global agreement to tackle climate change at an international summit in Copenhagen later this year.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim said: ‘We are not obligated to set targets or reduce emissions, but…we will do our part.

‘Whatever we do, we cannot compromise our ability to grow. So how we find a balance will be a continuous process.’

He added that the Government is continually reviewing its targets across all sectors of the economy and assessing how they can be improved.

Singapore’s stance comes despite pressure from countries like Japan and Australia, which have said that the Republic should be subject to firm targets because of high per capita emissions from industries here.

The other Asean countries – with the exception of Indonesia, which announced reduced emissions targets earlier this month – have adopted a similar position.

Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, for instance, called on developed nations to lead the way by committing to ‘substantive’ emissions cuts in Copenhagen.

‘Each country will respond according to its capability, so developed countries are in a better position to take deep cuts…while developing countries are still coping with economic and poverty issues.’

Dr Yaacob’s comments yesterday echoed those made by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who said last week that imposing targets on Singapore would be unfair as it would hamper economic growth.

He noted that most goods produced in Singapore were for export.

Associate Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart, an expert on South-east Asian politics at the National University of Singapore, said it was in the interest of Singapore and its regional neighbours to adopt a tough stance in the lead-up to the Copenhagen meeting.

‘Countries are approaching these types of negotiations trying to maximise what they can get, while minimising the cost they pay for it.’

But she added that Asean had an opportunity to help achieve a viable global agreement.

‘Given that Asean has, at times, achieved some good rewards by acting as an international lobby group, it could play a constructive mediating role in the negotiations.’

Also announced at yesterday’s meeting, attended by environment ministers from the 10 Asean countries, was the formation of a working group to share information on the threats to eco-systems, coastal communities and marine environments posed by global warming.

The group will bring together experts from different fields to address climate change.

Calling its formation a significant move, Dr Yaacob said: ‘We all know that no two countries are the same, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

‘With this working group, there will be an opportunity not only to learn from each other, but also, where possible, to collaborate.’

Haze was also discussed at yesterday’s meeting, and there is some good news on that front.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency said wetter weather expected from next month is likely to quell hazy conditions arising from an extended dry season, which gave rise to increased hotspot activity in Sumatra and Kalimantan earlier this year.

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