Parliament Q&A

Oral reply by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor to Parliamentary Question on Carbon Emissions on 4 Nov 2019


Mr Ong Teng Koon: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what percentage of Singapore's carbon emissions is currently contributed by air-conditioning, vehicle transport, and waste incineration; and (b) how can Singapore become more efficient in these activities.

Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what is the carbon footprint generated by the waste incineration process in Singapore; and (b) whether measures such as carbon capture and sequestration or carbonation of bottom ash are in place or being considered to reduce this.


Answer by SMS Amy Khor:

1 Singapore generated 52.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017.  The buildings and household sectors contributed around 19% of our total GHG emissions, of which a sizeable portion would have been for air-conditioning.  The land transport sector contributed around 14%, and the incineration of municipal solid waste at waste-to-energy plants contributed around 3% of our total GHG emissions.

2 Singapore is fully committed to reducing our emissions under our Paris Agreement pledge. We have put in place a comprehensive suite of measures to reduce our emissions across all sectors. These measures are complemented by the economy-wide carbon tax which came into effect this year.


3 Under the Building Control Regulations, all new buildings and buildings undergoing major retrofitting are required to achieve a minimum sustainability standard. BCA’s Green Mark Scheme also encourages building owners and developers to achieve higher energy efficiency, such as by reducing a building’s cooling demand and adopting more efficient cooling systems. NEA has also put in place the Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) to encourage consumers to purchase more energy-efficient household air-conditioners, and introduced the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to phase out the less efficient appliances from the market.


4 In the transport sector, we aim to make public transport the preferred mode of travel in Singapore and to encourage active mobility such as walking and cycling. By 2040, we target for 9 in 10 peak period journeys to be taken using public, active and shared modes of transport, and for these journeys to be completed within 45 minutes. We have already capped the vehicle population in Singapore at zero growth, except for commercial vehicles. We also encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles including electric vehicles, and are working with the industry to develop infrastructure for our public, shared and private transport vehicles.


5 We are diverting waste away from incineration by focusing on efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Under the Zero Waste Masterplan launched in August, we outlined how Singapore is adopting a circular economy approach to waste management, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible. The Resource Sustainability Act that was recently enacted gives legislative effect to the regulatory framework that we will put in place to better manage the three priority waste streams of electrical and electronic waste, or e-waste, packaging waste including plastics, and food waste. These measures will contribute not only to reducing carbon emissions and closing the resource loop for these key waste streams, but will also extend the lifespan of our only landfill at Semakau.


6 We are closely monitoring global developments in carbon capture and sequestration. There are no plans to incorporate these technologies into our current waste management infrastructure at this moment. However, we will continue to study the feasibility of such technology, taking into consideration factors such as the maturity of the technology, and the costs and benefits of applying it to the Singapore context.


7 Tackling climate change requires a whole-of-nation approach. Individuals also play a key role in our climate mitigation efforts. We can all choose to make climate-friendly choices and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, such as setting the air-conditioner temperature at 25 degrees Celsius, practising the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), and taking public transport.

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