MEWR stepping up climate mitigation efforts in food, water, energy & transport sectors
A multi-pronged approach for a multi-faceted problem.
Climate change is bringing new and imminent threats to countries worldwide. With the latest IPCC report released in 2018 detailing the 11-year countdown to tackle this dire phenomenon, small low-lying countries like Singapore are particularly vulnerable.
Speaking at the Committee of Supply debate on March 7, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli elaborated on the five ways the government intends to protect Singapore against the looming threat of climate change.
Beefing up water security
Recent disputes over Singapore’s water supply have highlighted the tenuous balance of the country’s water security.
To increase the resilience of Singapore’s water supply, Masagos stated that the government is scaling up production of non-imported water by building more NEWater and desalination plants. Two more of the latter will be completed in 2020.
A fund of S$200 million has also been allocated to the PUB Singapore for research and development (R&D) purposes. The money will be used to develop innovative breakthrough technologies to help expand the capacity of local water resources.
With climate change as the backdrop, Masagos said:
“We need to produce water almost at will, regardless of whether the rains will come.”
By April 1, 2019, all food-related matters previously handled by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will be transferred to the new Singapore Food Agency (SFA).
To improve Singapore’s food security, the government will be diversifying its import sources, continuing to support local companies overseas and expanding local food production, said Masagos.
Masagos specifically highlighted the latter. SFA’s “Grow Local” strategy to reduce reliance on food imports includes a vision of achieving “30 by 30″—to locally produce 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030.
Currently, Singapore imports 90 per cent of its food.
Existing local fish and vegetable farms will also receive support from the Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF) to enable them to integrate climate mitigating technologies and automation into their operations.
One example of this, said Masagos, is encouraging coastal fish farms to adopt closed containment aquaculture systems which safeguard against algal blooms—an increased occurrence in a warming climate.
SFA will also support the growing interest in urban rooftop farms.
Carbon taxes, floating solar panels
In a bid to green the energy industry and encourage businesses to switch to clean fuel, Masagos announced that the carbon tax would take effect this year.
The government, he said, is prepared to spend more than the resulting estimated S$1 billion in tax revenues to help companies become more energy-efficient.
Plans to step up adoption of carbon-footprint-reducing solar energy are underway.
PUB is studying the deployment of floating solar photovoltaic systems at four reservoirs in Singapore—Bedok, Lower Seletar, Upper Pierce and Tengah, mentioned Masagos.
Masagos stressed the importance of managing vehicular emissions to reduce pollution and production of greenhouse gases.
He called attention to the Early Turnover scheme established in 2013—under the scheme, more than 40,000 diesel vehicles have switched to cleaner diesel models since then.
MEWR was also collaborating with the Ministry of Transport to engage players in the green transport sector like electric vehicle operators HDT and BlueSG.
Climate change brings about not just warmer temperatures, but unpredictable weather too.
With the possibility of more frequent intense storms and Singapore’s susceptibility to flash floods, upgrading works at two major waterways, Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal and Sungei Pandan Kechil are to be completed in 2019, Masagos assured.
Drainage upgrading works at another 16 locations will also commence this year to enhance the country’s flood resilience.
Top photo from govsingapore / YouTube