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Singapore scores high on land use and water - Next target: Cut energy use.

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Singapore scores high on land use and water - Next target: Cut energy use.

Post by Benny on 25th June 2008, 10:19 am

Singapore scores high on land use and water - Next target: Cut energy use
Minister Mah suggests reduction of 20%-30%; people will need to rethink how they use electricity
By Li Xueying


SINGAPORE has to work harder at cutting down energy usage - perhaps by 20 per cent to 30 per cent, as countries around the world increasingly emphasise sustainable development.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who said this, noted that Singapore has scored relatively well on the water and land usage fronts.

'But I think (on) energy, we've not done enough. I think we need to do more,' he said in an interview with The Straits Times.

There would have to be a multifaceted approach taken, he noted.

On the Government's part, it can examine policies such as using new materials to construct HDB blocks, examining new ways of designing and maintaining lifts which currently 'use up a lot of energy', and installing energy-saving lights in public carparks.

Singaporeans, as consumers, also have to play their part in understanding the amount of energy that their various appliances use up, and going for energy-saving versions, he added.

'So I think we need to go into the details of each and every one of these items, and see how we can cut down energy usage 20 per cent, 30 per cent,' said Mr Mah.

His remarks come as the inaugural three-day World Cities Summit - co-organised by his ministry - kicks off today.

More than 700 policymakers, governors, urban planners and environmentalists from various countries are gathering at the Suntec Convention Centre, where the concept of 'sustainable development' will be in the limelight.

It is 'one of those terms that people use without knowing the meaning', noted Mr Mah, who defined it as such: 'It's how do we continue to grow in a way that doesn't adversely affect our living environment.'

Certainly, there are challenges as Singapore seeks to cut down on its energy usage, he conceded.

'Upfront costs may be a bit higher, but we have to (do it), if it makes practical sense. And (whether) the payback period is two, three, five, seven years, whatever, if this makes sense, then we have to do it,' he said.

'How many taxes, how many incentives are there, what are the things we need? I think these are things that we need to sit down and discuss.'

These are details that an inter-ministerial committee - co-chaired by Mr Mah and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim - is thrashing out.

It will be rolling out a 10-year roadmap next year on how Singapore can adopt green solutions in transport, housing and industry.

While Singapore has done 'fairly well over the last 40, 50 years', it faces new challenges in terms of resource constraints - energy, water, and land - as it tries to maintain growth, said Mr Mah.

To grow, he added: 'I submit that we need to continue to attract talent.

'More talent, more people means more strain on resources. More strain on resources means growth may be at the expense of the environment. So how do we reconcile that? It can be a vicious circle or we make it into a virtuous circle.'

This comes in tandem with record energy prices.

In an assessment of Singapore's efforts to date, the minister said: '(With respect to) water we have done very well: How do we save water? How do we make sure that water is reused and recycled?

'On land, I think we've been very conscious about how we make use of land: Better utilisation of land; we've already done intensification, higher plot ratios and so on.'

So what is lacking are efforts on the energy front.

Said Mr Mah: 'Now we've got to look at energy. How do we save energy? How do we make better use of energy? How can we, can we recycle energy?'

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