Singapore's environmental issues, and the policies to tackle these issues.
Statistics, reports and publications by our ministry and statutory boards.
Report incidents, participate in public consultations and suggest ideas.
Pereira: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources (a) what measures will be implemented to help Singaporeans and
residents cope with the worsening haze and air pollution; and (b) whether these
measures will include the installation of air filter equipment in places
frequented by the public, distribution of masks and public education on ways to
minimise the impact on health.
Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources (a) how successful has the 2014 Transboundary Haze Pollution Act been
in mitigating the annual threat of haze; (b) to date, how many successful cases
have been investigated under the Act; (c) how many cases are currently under
investigation; and (d) whether our neighbouring countries have been cooperative
in providing assistance for investigation requests.
Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources in view of public feedback on the perceived "inaccuracies"
of the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index forecast currently used by NEA, whether
the Ministry will consider adopting the hourly Air Quality Index now cast
alongside the 1-hour PM2.5 concentration readings to assuage public concerns
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources what is the number of
companies and individuals who have been investigated and prosecuted under the
Transboundary Haze Pollution Act since commencement of the Act in 2014.
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what steps has
Singapore taken to promote the sustainable production of palm oil, pulp, paper
and other commodities from plantations so as to disincentivise plantation
owners and farmers from using the slash and burn method of clearing land that
causes transboundary haze; and (b) what is the Ministry's assessment of the
effectiveness of these steps.
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources what steps have been
identified to overcome the difficulty of gathering evidence against entities
believed to have caused transboundary haze in contravention of the
Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014.
Li Hui: To
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether there are
plans for the Government, businesses and the community to work hand-in-hand to
distribute N95 masks to low-income and vulnerable seniors when the Pollutant
Standards Index readings hits very unhealthy or hazardous levels.
Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for the Environment and
Water Resources what can Singapore do to make it commercially unviable for
companies in the region to operate slash and burn tactics for clearing of land.
Dr Lim Wee
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in light of the haze
recurrence (a) whether measures and action plans implemented previously to help
our neighbours are no longer effective; and (b) what is the action plan moving
forward to help our neighbours prevent or reduce the hot spots for the long
Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources whether NEA is able to identify any land owners in Indonesia who are
responsible for the burning of forest land that causes haze and whether any
prosecution action will be taken against these land owners.
Ms Foo Mee
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how the cost of
haze pollution to Singapore can be estimated; and (b) what are the Government's
estimates of previous years' cost impact arising from haze pollution on health,
education and business.
Ms Foo Mee
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) how effective has
the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 been in holding companies and
individuals accountable for causing haze pollution; and (b) what is the number
of perpetrators who have been prosecuted under the Act.
Er Dr Lee
Bee Wah: To ask the
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the haze
assistance efforts extended to Indonesia this year; (b) how much of the
assistance efforts have been accepted; and (c) what are the long-term
collaboration plans with leaders in the region to mitigate transboundary haze.
Eng Hwa: To
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources how can the Government
minimise and manage the impact of haze on the public and the Government's
policy in the distribution of the national stockpile of N95 masks.
Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister
for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether and to what extent the
Transboundary Haze Pollution Act has been effective at addressing transboundary
haze; (b) what is the progress on existing investigations under the Act of the
4 firms linked to the 2015 haze; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider
strengthening the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act with financial incentives
for whistleblowers who contribute substantially to the identification and
prosecution of entities contributing to haze pollution.
Sun Sun: To
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources why there have been no
prosecutions to date under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 despite
the ample legal and evidentiary mechanisms available under the Act.
Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources whether he can provide an update on (i) the outlook for haze
affecting Singapore in the months ahead; (ii) diplomatic efforts to mitigate
haze generation in Indonesia; and (iii) domestic efforts to mitigate the public
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources how has the enactment
of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 enhanced Singapore's response to transboundary
ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the
considerations behind NEA's decision to report air quality based on 24-hour PSI
and 1-hour PM 2.5 readings; and (b) what is the Government's assessment of the
utility of the above readings to the population vis-a-vis other indices or
Answer by Minister:
Haze has affected ASEAN for years. It has been a perennaprial scourge in
our region, affecting millions of people. Haze pollutes the air we breathe and
sets back global efforts in tackling climate change. The 2015 fires in Indonesia generated
nearly 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide; more than half of the 1.5 gigatonne that
was saved from the increased use of renewable energy by the whole world for
that year. A study by Professor Euston Quah and Associate Professor Chia Wai
Mun from Nanyang Technological University estimated that the cost to Singapore
of the 2-month long 2015 haze episode was $1.83 billion or 0.45% of our GDP,
taking into account factors such as health cost, loss in productivity, and
impact on tourism and business. This year, fires in Indonesia have released 360
million tonnes of carbon dioxide since August, more than Spain’s emissions for
the whole of 2018. Lives have been lost, and the
health and livelihoods of millions impacted.
adopts a multi-pronged approach to tackle transboundary haze and mitigate its
impact on Singaporeans.
we have been undertaking diplomatic and regional efforts to tackle the haze
problem. As early as April, I have written to my Indonesian counterpart to
convey Singapore’s readiness to assist Indonesia in tackling land and forest
fires. When the haze situation in Singapore worsened in September, CEO of National
Environment Agency (NEA) wrote to his counterpart on 16 September to convey
concerns about the haze situation and details of the fire-fighting assets that
Singapore could activate to help Indonesia deal with the escalating number of
hotspots. We also sent Indonesia a diplomatic note on the same day. On 19
September, CEO (NEA) wrote again to his counterpart after Indonesia announced
that it had sealed off plantations operated by several companies, including
Singapore-registered ones, after detecting fires in their concessions. CEO
(NEA) requested for the offences committed and further information from the
Indonesian government to support NEA’s investigations. We sent Indonesia a
diplomatic note on 20 September expressing our concerns over the escalation of
hotspots and sought their assistance to enhance measures on the ground to
prevent and mitigate the occurrence of forest and land fires. Additionally, CEO (NEA) wrote on 4 October to
his counterpart to further request information on all companies suspected of
intentionally burning land. We have yet to receive any response from the Indonesian government thus
Singapore is supportive of the Indonesian government’s continuing
efforts to suppress the forest and land fires. We recognise President Joko Widodo’s
personal attention and efforts in tackling this problem. The key is to prevent the fires from starting
in the first place. Errant individuals and companies whose actions jeopardise
the health and lives of people in ASEAN and which set back our efforts to fight
climate change must be held accountable. Strong enforcement action must be
taken against perpetrators and to deter others.
Singapore also works closely with other ASEAN Member States to monitor
hotspot activities to support measures to reduce fires. For more than two decades, the ASEAN Specialised
Meteorological Centre (ASMC), which Singapore hosts, has been sharing regional
weather and haze outlook, and satellite information with ASEAN Member States. The ASMC plays a critical
regional role. Its technical assessments and updates on
the haze situation, along with the ASMC’s meteorological forecasts and data on
hotspot activities, support efforts to prevent, detect and fight fires. In addition, Singapore is helping fellow
ASEAN Member States build their capability in haze monitoring as well as
weather and climate prediction. Singapore has contributed $5 million to the
ASMC for a 5-year regional capability building programme.
But we also need greater urgency and
political resolve, as well as closer cooperation amongst ASEAN countries and
stakeholders if we are to make progress towards a haze-free ASEAN. This is why
Singapore has been participating actively and contributing at all regional
haze-related meetings, such as the 21st
meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on
Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Brunei on 6 August. The MSC is an annual
ministerial-level meeting which is convened in the run-up to the dry season in
the Southern ASEAN region. This year’s meeting noted the ASMC’s report about
the potential escalation of hotspot activities and increased risk of
transboundary haze due to drier and warmer weather. I reminded ASEAN Member
States that transboundary haze remained a major concern for the region and the
need for preparedness. MSC member countries (Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Singapore and Thailand) had reaffirmed their readiness to enhance cooperation
and coordination to address land and forest fires.
At the same
meeting, MSC member countries also reaffirmed their commitment to the
objectives and principles of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze
Pollution (AATHP) and the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation towards Transboundary
Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation. The ten ASEAN countries, which
are signatories to the AATHP, will meet in Cambodia on 8-9 October 2019 to take
stock of the implementation of the Agreement and discuss how to further enhance
its implementation. SMS Amy Khor will lead the Singapore delegation at the
coming meeting. She will reiterate
our concerns about the detrimental effects of haze, its impact on
climate change and global emissions of greenhouse gas, and urge all ASEAN
Member States to take strong action to prevent the recurrence of haze.
that strong enforcement on the ground is needed to prevent the recurrent fires,
Singapore enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) in 2014 to send a
strong signal that we will not tolerate the irresponsible actions of errant
companies, whether Singapore-based or otherwise, that harm our environment. In 2015, NEA issued legal
notices under the THPA to six companies to take immediate measures to stop the
fires that caused haze that affected Singapore. Two of the companies have
responded and explained that they were no longer associated with the affected
lands. Upon further investigation, NEA accepted their explanation and closed
these two cases. As for the other four
companies, their cases are still open. A director of one of these companies was served a THPA Notice to be
interviewed by NEA when he was in Singapore. When he failed to turn up for the
interview, a court warrant was obtained to secure his attendance when he next
enters Singapore. NEA is
on the lookout for other directors of these companies, and will
similarly require them to assist in the investigations when they are in
Singapore therefore welcomes the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment
and Forestry’s efforts to pursue action against errant companies culpable for
the fires, subjecting them to the full extent of the law, and pursuing
necessary evidence to do so. As mentioned earlier, CEO
(NEA) has written to his Indonesian counterpart to request for more information
pertaining to this year’s fires, so that we can investigate on our end. For
this year’s haze episode, NEA is closely monitoring the situation and will update as appropriate. We
hope that the Indonesian government will work with Singapore and other
countries in the region by sharing substantiated information that could help
identify companies suspected of causing fires. Indonesia should also publish
information on land ownership and concession boundaries that can help ascertain
which companies are involved. Indonesia’s cooperation in this will be useful
and necessary in providing the evidence of wrongdoing by any company that has contributed to haze in Singapore.
The THPA complements the efforts of Indonesia
and other countries to hold companies to account and is not intended to replace
their laws and enforcement actions. We respect the sovereignty of others but States also have a
responsibility to ensure that the activities within their jurisdiction or
control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or areas beyond
the limits of national jurisdiction. Given that these fires occur abroad, regional cooperation
remains crucial in resolving transboundary haze pollution. We
are pleased that Malaysia is also considering similar legislation. We remain committed to work with other countries to
find a solution, as well as collaborate through ASEAN and other international
platforms such as the UN.
The THPA is not a panacea or the only tool to fight transboundary haze.
Although none of the investigated companies has been prosecuted yet, the
THPA has nevertheless put added pressure on companies to behave responsibly. We have no plans to amend the THPA at this moment.
Third, consumer choices and
demand play a crucial role in shaping the practices of forestry and palm oil
industries. As more consumers opt for sustainable products, this will
incentivise companies to adopt more sustainable practices which in turn
contributes to reducing haze. For example, under
the World Wildlife Fund Singapore’s Southeast Asia Alliance on Sustainable Palm
Oil (SASPO), efforts are being led by the industry and there is growing
momentum towards adopting sustainable and responsible practices. The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has
established the enhanced Singapore Green Labelling Scheme (SGLS+) to help
consumers identify sustainable pulp and paper. This certification demands full
disclosure of the company’s supply chain, imposes the legal sourcing of all
fibre, has a zero-burning policy and includes fire and peatland management.
Assessment is done through site audits, evaluation and risk assessments of
companies’ concession lands. As of 26 September 2019, 10 companies have
achieved the SGLS+ certification. SEC will
take punitive actions such as
revocation of certification if there is proof of wrongdoing relating to
companies of SGLS+ certified pulp and paper products.
institutions can exercise influence over regional forestry and palm oil
companies, and promote the adoption of sustainable practices through their
lending and investment activities. The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS)
released a set of responsible financing guidelines in October 2015, comprising
environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. In 2017, the ABS released
the Haze Diagnostic Kit which provides best practices guidelines for member
banks to assess their clients’ commitments to haze risk management. To support
climate-related disclosures, the Singapore Exchange introduced the “Comply or
Explain” Sustainability Reporting Guide for listed companies, beginning from
the financial year ending on or after 31 December 2017. Another important signal is that our investment
entities do not invest in errant companies. Temasek Holdings has stated
publicly that they consider ESG factors when making decisions as an investor
looking to deliver returns on a sustainable basis and they fully support no
burn policies for land clearance. GIC has also stated that they integrate
sustainability considerations holistically into their investment processes.
Fourth, to provide the public with timely
information to safeguard their health and well-being, NEA
has been issuing daily advisories on the haze situation since 4 August this
year. The daily advisories provide the forecast of the Pollutant Standards
Index or PSI for the next 24 hours which could be used as the basis for major
decisions, such as school closure. This is in addition to the 1-hour PM2.5
levels and 24-hour PSI which are updated every hour and are available online
and on the MyENV mobile application.
transboundary haze episodes, PM2.5 is the dominant pollutant and has
the most influence on the PSI. The 1-hour PM2.5 levels provide an
indicative measure of the current air quality, and is a useful indicator to
guide immediate activities, such as whether or not to exercise outdoors.
to minimise the impact of haze on the public, the Government has since 1994 set
up a Haze Task Force (HTF), comprising 28 government agencies. This is led by
NEA. The HTF convened in early May this year, before the dry season, to begin
preparations for a potential haze situation. With the onset of haze in
mid-September, the HTF agencies have been rolling out actions to protect the
health and well-being of the public, especially the more vulnerable groups such
as the elderly, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic lung and
The Ministry of Health (MOH) worked with our healthcare institutions
(including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes) to prepare for any
increase in the number of cases of haze-related conditions and on the timely
activation of haze preparedness measures. These measures include using air
purifiers and fans, and reducing ambient temperature by deploying portable air
coolers where appropriate. Our public healthcare institutions are also
monitoring patients closely for possible health effects of the haze and will
institute appropriate medical intervention where necessary.
In addition, all
classrooms of primary and secondary schools, Ministry of Education (MOE)
Kindergartens and Special Education schools have been equipped with air
purifiers to enhance the well-being of students during a haze situation.
Teachers will also be on the lookout for students who are unwell or have
pre-existing lung or heart conditions.
Contingency plans are in place should there be haze during the
The HTF has also
ensured that additional stocks of N95 masks are pushed out to retail shops, and
there are sufficient stocks in the warehouses and government stockpiles. The
Singapore Government has a national stockpile of 16 million N95 masks. The HTF has plans in
place to distribute N95 masks to vulnerable and needy residents if the 24-hour
PSI crosses into the “Very Unhealthy” (PSI 201-300) range. N95 masks are, however, not required for short
exposure, like commuting from home to school or work, or
in an indoor environment. The elderly, pregnant women and those
with severe lung or heart problems who have difficulty breathing at rest or on
exertion should consult their doctor as to whether they should use the N95
We have considered
cloud-seeding but there is a lack of reliable means to validate its
effectiveness for Singapore. Given our small size and the variability of winds,
the induced rain, if any, may not fall directly over our island.
first half of October, the Southwest Monsoon is expected to transition to
inter-monsoon conditions characterized by light and variable winds and
increased showers. Some parts of the region can still experience periods of dry
weather in October, and hotspot activities may persist in parts of Sumatra and
Kalimantan. However, the change in wind conditions will help to reduce the risk
of transboundary haze affecting Singapore.
will continue to monitor the haze situation closely.
For updates, members of the public can visit the NEA website (www.nea.gov.sg),
MSS website (www.weather.gov.sg),
the haze microsite (www.haze.gov.sg),
mobile apps (myEnv and Weather@SG) or follow NEA Facebook (www.facebook.com/NEASingapore)
and NEA Twitter (@NEAsg). For information on the distribution of hotspots
detected over the past fortnight in the region, please refer to the ASEAN
Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) website at asmc.asean.org.
Last updated: 07 Oct 2019
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