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Energy Budget & the Nuclear Debate

March 10, 2010
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So, parliament has rolled out the plans for Singapore’s environment budget for 2010 and into the next few years. You can find the full report about the environmental budget, which concerns MEWR here.

One highlight is definitely the new Energy Conservation Act. The Energy Conservation Act will require large users to appoint a trained energy manager. Companies will also have to submit energy improvement plans as well as to make periodic reports to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

There are about 130 companies in this category, among them pharmaceuticals, oil refineries, wafer fabs and petrochemical companies.

Read more via WildSingapore.com

The legislation will only take effect in 2013 and is targetted to cut across all sectors to phase out energy guzzlers in Singapore. This Act is officially targetted at private sector companies but it is reported that the public sector will set their own energy goals or “energy efficiency targets” by 2011. The question is, why so late and why only energy efficiency and not energy reduction targets? I think the Singapore government can do more in this aspect, and to set an example.

I think in some way, MEWR has done a good job in outlining their plans for this year.

MEWR’s mission is to deliver and sustain a clean and healthy environment and water resources for all in Singapore. We also aim to grow and nurture a vibrant environment and water industry that contributes to sustainable economic growth in Singapore. A total budget of $1.09 billion has been allocated to MEWR in FY2009 to achieve this mission.

MEWR seeks to achieve the following outcomes:

  • High standards of environmental health
  • Good ambient air quality
  • Sustainable solid waste management
  • Energy efficient Singapore
  • Sustainable and affordable water supply
  • A vibrant environment and water industry

But I believe more can be done in terms of integrating the 6 ministries targetted for social development budget expenditure, which are all responsible for seeing through the policies set out in the budget. The ministries involved are Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of National Development (MND), Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA).

In terms of budget expenditure targetted towards environmental causes, these are the 2 I picked out.

  • Develop Singapore into a “City in a Garden”.
    MND will spend $695 million to develop new parks and park connectors, enhance our streetscape greenery and develop the Gardens by the Bay. MND will also develop the capabilities in the landscape industry and promote community ownership over greening initiatives.
  • Promote energy efficiency.
    $18.9 million will be allocated to fund programmes under the E2 Singapore, a multi-agency programme office set up to drive energy efficiency improvements in Singapore and promote the adoption of measures on energy efficiency.
  • While these sound like fantastic initatives, and I have no doubt that they will be if they are fully carried through, more has to be done to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. So, what’s the plan?

    There are rising concerns about Singapore going nuclear. I’ve received an urgent email from Adrian from the Malaysian Youth Climate Network saying that we should fight back together. While I agree that nuclear is a bad choice altogether in the context of Singapore, there are many benefits.

    I believe that neo-Malthusian Paul Ehrlich and Gaia Hypothesis proponent James Lovelock have been cited to tout the benefits of going nuclear. My job is to provide two views about nuclear energy, rather than be an advocate for either side. But in the context of Singapore, I firmly believe that nuclear is utter rubbish and that resources should not be wasted to do a feasibility study on nuclear. My guess is that the government ALREADY has plans to go nuclear and this feasibility study/budget/parliament debate is similar to the IR debate years ago… just means to placate the Singaporean people.

    Anyway, here’s one article by James Lovelock on Nuclear Power is the only green solution. Here’s another discussing Nuclear developments in Asia. Either way, I believe nuclear is a feasible option in a more global context, I mean, look at France’s success with adopting nuclear as their primary means of energy supply! I recently attended seminars, during which the speaker had said that countries that are so against nuclear energy are actually BUYING nuclear energy from other countries. Now, that doesn’t make sense does it? So if nuclear is the way forward, then perhaps it’s time we embrace it. After all, it is a cleaner form of energy than fossil fuels… only thing is the safety aspect that we are all so concerned with.

    It looks as if Singapore is charging ahead in the race towards nuclear energy and no matter what is being said or written about it, I doubt there is a way to stop it. So, I am keen to join anyone if they think that they have the capability to stop this or to discuss further the two sides of nuclear energy and it’s feasibility in Singapore. My advice is to read more, learn more and to embrace nuclear before putting it down as an absolute NO. Find out more about nuclear and question why the Singapore government highlighted this move in the first place. There must be more to it than what meets the eye and the politica/economic motives behind it may be a viable justification for the move towards nuclear energy.

    Singaporeans love to complain about dependence on fossil fuels, but when the government comes out to say that they are conducting a study on nuclear, people get afraid and say all sorts of things about it. Myself included. However, I wouldn’t totally rule nuclear energy out, not if it is produced elsewhere, and does not compromise the safety of Singaporeans. Selfish, yes. But it is a legitimate concern that all Singaporeans have with regards to this matter. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. 🙂

    Mel

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    One Comment leave one →
    1. April 26, 2010 3:15 pm

      This is a stupid plan. Instead of mandatory requirement, the government ought to be stipulating voluntary energy conservation standard whereby the private sector and the government can work in partnership. The market provides a price signal for industry players to adjust their consumption and there is no need for excessive government intervention in the private sector.

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