Last week, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), launched a Clean City Air Coalition to raise awareness of air pollution issues in the region and even within Singapore. The event took place at the inaugural Clean Air Forum, organised by SIIA as part of the Clean Enviro Summit at Marina Bay Sands.
The SIIA's Clean City Air Coalition comprises parties involved in controlling air pollution, such as Senoko Energy, and those who could bear the brunt of failed efforts at controlling air pollution, such as the Sentosa Leisure Group.
Such firms have contributed about $100,000 in funding to the coalition, which aims to increase companies' and the public's understanding of what clean air really means and help shape regulatory policy.
Our island-state has better air quality than many South-east Asian neighbours but it is still not up to World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
Air pollutant levels here, while on a downward trend since 2005, were actually worse last year than in 2007, according to statistics released by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources last month.
A problem for policymakers is that efforts at clearing the air, while staving off climate change, can be at odds with each other.
National University of Singapore researcher and SIIA Associate Fellow Kua Harn Wei illustrated the contradiction with the example of catalytic converters which convert toxic chemicals from vehicle emissions into less toxic ones. These may reduce the amount of carbon monoxide belched out from tailpipes but they can also increase the amount of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. So this measure aimed at cleaning up pollutants ends up feeding global warming.
SIIA director and Nominated Member of Parliament Nicholas Fang pointed out at the same forum that low-carbon diesel cuts carbon emissions but can spew particulate matter into the air, giving some people breathing problems.
Mr. Fang feels that more needs to be done to raise public awareness of this issue, especially pertaining to sources of pollutants such as PM2.5 and NOX (Nitrous Oxides). In 2011, the annual PM2.5 level remained the same as the year before (2010) while the annual PM10 level increased slightly, with both exceeding the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines.
To read more, go to the Straits Times article here and the ABC Carbon Express article here.