Electric Vehicles Punished in Singapore's War on Climate Change

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By: Michael Heng PBM

Singapore Electric Vehicles Wrongly Penalised By Fossil Fuel-based Rules
Strange, but true. A wholly electric vehicle (EV) with dual electric motors that emits no carbon emission has been penalized with a S$15,000 carbon tax surcharge. Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) has wrongly determined that the all-electric Tesla Model S vehicle “produced 222g/km of CO2, putting it within the S$15,000 surcharge band under Singapore’s Carbon Emission-based Vehicle Scheme”.

The truth is the Tesla Model S in motion produces zero carbon emission since it is solely propelled by 2 electric motors and has no additional combustion engine or fuel cell on board. As a pure battery electric vehicle, its electric motors are the sole propulsion source; hence, there is no fuel consumption and zero CO2 exhaust emissions (see far right picture below).

Electrification and Emissions
Obsolete Regulations & Mindsets Obstruct Singapore’s War on Climate Change
According to LTA’s own Guidelines, the Tesla Model S vehicle should actually be entitled to the S$30,000 carbon rebates like the Peugeot Ion or the BMW i3 electric hatchback. Ironically, even the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid, which actually emits CO2 on the road managed to qualify for LTA’s S$30,000 carbon rebate, while the zero emission Tesla Model S is penalized.

The LTA further clarifies that it was not the Tesla vehicle that emits CO2 but rather it is the source-generator of its electric power amounting to 444 watt-hour/km produced and charged by the Singapore Grid’s gas-operated power stations. These fossil-fuel based gas-operated power stations are contracted by the Singapore Government to supply electricity exclusively throughout the country. No other source of electric power beyond 10MW can be legally generated without a power generation license from the Government.

The LTA had strangely factored in the carbon emissions by the fossil-fuel based gas-operated power station when generating the electricity used for charging the Tesla vehicle, and penalized the Tesla vehicle (as well as other electric vehicle) owner for the carbon emissions produced by the fossil-fuel gas–operated power stations.

By extending and attributing its carbon tax surcharge to the source electricity generators, the LTA departed from its own guidelines to wrongfully penalized the Tesla S Model and other all-electric vehicles.

The LTA’s own Guidelines refer to the applicable taxable carbon emissions as ”the release of carbon dioxide from the use of a vehicle”. They further added that “the g CO2 /km is a measure that quantifies the weight of carbon dioxide (CO2) released for every kilometre that the vehicle is driven i.e. the vehicle’s fuel efficiency”. The LTA Guidelines refer ONLY to CO2 produced by the vehicle in motion.

Nowhere in its CEVS Guidelines or Press Release on the subject did the LTA, or the Government, ever affirm that the fossil-fuel based gas-operated power stations could or would be the incidental source for its carbon tax surcharge.

It is more baffling and even disingenuous when the LTA explained that it was following the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) R101 standards. Nowhere in any of the tests under the UNECE R101 standards did they mandate the measurement of carbon emission of an all-electric vehicle like the Tesla Model S from a remote power station source.

COP21 The Paris Agreement Forgotten?
It is barely 3 months after COP21 UN Climate Summit Conference in Paris in Decembr 2015, and where the Paris Agreement (which was also signed by Singapore) essentially defines the key criteria by which to judge sustainability efforts. Sustainability from hereforth shall mean low or zero carbon emission. It mandates that fossil energy is excluded from all sustainability considerations. The Paris Agreement “also recognises that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed country Parties taking the lead, play an important role in addressing climate change”. The emphasis on renewables-based sustainability is unmistakable.

The global movement to make fossil fuel history involves the promotion of all-electric vehicles that are truly sustainable. A new mindset is needed to replace obsolete policies and practices that favour fossil-fuel vehicles. New policies, infrastructures and practices are needed to roll out the new imperative of a sustainable electric mobility consisting of transportation powered by renewable energy.

A Singapore future reality story demonstrates how one country could enhance her energy security by reducing her fossil fuel dependency by 16%-20% with a 100% electric vehicle population. This is achieved by a nation-wide effort to harness the the creative energy of a resourceful people to use solar and urban wind energy to produce carbon-neutral electricity for EV charging as well as daily and commercial living.

The Tesla Model S case is an unfortunate incident of taking many steps back from COP21 and withdrawn into comfortable policies and practices. Obsolete regulations and mindsets will obstruct Singapore’s War on Climate Change, and make it harder to fulfill Singapore’s carbon reduction and climate change promises to the world made in Paris last December.

Republished from MIKOspace.