Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions over 50m tonnes in 2014, but emission intensity one of world’s lowest

Photo: Singapore greenhouse gas emissions/YouTube screengrab

The most current figures on Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions show that the city-state generated over 50 million tonnes in 2014. While this is an increase from the 2012 emissions, Singapore’s emission intensity is one of the world’s lowest.

On December 27, the Government submitted its biennial report on greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations. The report, which is the most current, was published online last week.

Singapore’s report came after important global climate talks in Katowice, Poland in December 2018, where different governments agreed on a set of guidelines for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Singapore generated 50.9 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2014, up 4.8 percent from the 48.6 million tonnes it brought about in 2012. The majority of the emissions were from the burning of fossil fuels to create energy for transportation, homes, buildings and different industries.

The breakdown of the total emissions are as follows – more than 95 percent were carbon dioxide emissions, while the remaining percentage was made up of other gases such as methane, perfluorocarbons and nitrous oxide. The gas emissions have been converted to reflect the amount of carbon dioxide that would create the same amount of global warming.

The decrease in Singapore’s emissions per dollar of gross domestic product can be attributed to its fast-growing economy, which has grown at a quicker pace over the same period of time.

The report stated that Singapore’s emissions intensity decreased by 37 percent from 2000 to 2014 and is one of the lowest in the world.

Singapore had pledged to decrease its emissions intensity by 36 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels). The city-state re-pledged its goal during the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Government said Singapore is “well on track” to meet its 2020 pledge to bring emissions down by 16 percent below the regular levels.

In an effort to reduce harmful gas emissions, Singapore has mainly been using a cleaner fuel mix, using fuel oils and natural gas to generate electricity, since the early 2000s.

“There are limits to how much more emissions can be reduced by switching fuels, as natural gas currently constitutes about 95 percent of our fuel mix for electricity generation,” the Government noted in its report.

One of Singapore’s efforts has been its increased use of solar energy. The Government added that another important strategy is to improve overall energy efficiency, which will rely on businesses and households to do their part.

Beginning this year, the Government will be imposing a carbon tax which it hopes will encourage decreasing energy use and efficiency of use “where it makes the most economic sense”.

The carbon tax will start at S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gases and will cover around 80 percent of national emissions.

While these measures are good, Singapore can still do more to reduce its gas emissions.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have been studying the nation’s energy efficiency.

Melissa Low, a research fellow at the NUS’ Energy Studies Institute, said that the Governments efforts are sending a “strong signal” to businesses to keep track of their emissions and improve industrial energy efficiency.

Low noted that Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions are “increasing, but at a decreasing rate”, which means it is on track for its 2030 goal.

Data gathered from different companies on the Government’s Energy Efficiency Fund effort will show whether existing facilities are using resource-efficient designs and whether new facilities will be doing the same.

Dr. Matthias Roth, a member of NUS’ department of geography, strongly feels that the city-state can up its game even more.

Dr. Roth acknowledged that the decrease in Singapore’s emissions intensity has contributed to making the economy more energy efficient, but that there are still issues to consider, specifically the absolute amount of emissions.

“The main issue, however, is that despite this drop in emissions intensity, absolute emissions are allowed to increase every year. In terms of man-made climate change and global warming, only the absolute amount of emissions is relevant,” he said.