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  Today Online 12 Oct 07
Climate fears: Are you waking up to the changes?
Nazry Bahrawi

Channel NewsAsia 11 Oct 07
Haste to overcome climate change problems may cause missteps: experts

SINGAPORE: When it comes to global issues like climate change, experts warn that one should not be taken in by false messiahs because they may just create more problems instead of solving them.

This was a key issue raised Thursday at the Climate Change and Security Conference held at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University.

The projected consequences of climate change is a global rise in temperature of up to 4 degrees celsius by the end of the century.

Rising sea levels that cause flooding will hit many coastal communities, especially in Asia.

However, Singapore's National Environment Council's Chairman Simon Tay warned against missteps and false solutions in the rush to do good about climate change.

"I think nuclear energy could seriously be one of them," he explained. "This industry has faced 20 years of question marks and decline, and suddenly it's popped up and being promoted as being very light in carbon, and so doesn't affect climate change (because) it gives you carbon light energy.

"But there are other aspects of the environment - what to do with the nuclear waste, the safety of its operations and the huge financial investments, especially for developing countries."

The big picture aside, participants said one way to put a value to intangibles like clean air and water is to price their worth, for example, a piece of developing land.

Associate Professor Euston Quah from the Humanities & Social Sciences Department of Nanyang Technological University said: "There should not be a ready presumption that just because they have no (monetary) values that they are of little value to society.

"Increasingly in Singapore, we see people complaining about noise everywhere, so that is something perhaps where more should be done to put a price on quietude."

The conference, which ends on Friday, is jointly organised by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Swiss Embassy. - CNA/yb

Today Online 12 Oct 07
Climate fears: Are you waking up to the changes?
Nazry Bahrawi

MELTING ice caps, deforestation, cross-border pollution and other transnational issues often dominate the headlines relating to climate change, but what we do in our everyday lives collectively has a big impact on the environment and this is increasingly being acknowledged by policy-makers here.

Associate Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), said: "If you look back one to two years, we heard nothing on climate change here, but now Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are talking about it."

"It is only a matter of time before it filters down to the masses," he told Today following a roundtable discussion on Environmental Challenges in South-east Asia organised by the SIIA yesterday.

"The discussion emphasised what everybody can do. Even before the Government make the rules, individuals and corporations can take important steps such as buying energy-friendly air-conditioners," he added.

Assoc Prof Tay, who is also chairman of the National Environment Agency (NEA), believes that the public sector is now waking up to the realities of climate change.

"National agencies such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Urban Redevelopment Authority had not seen climate change as their job. They (used to) believe it is the NEA's job to address it. But discussion at this forum shows that national agencies will now need to think through how their policies relate to climate change," he said.

"The thing that is emerging clearly is an appeal for the Government to become somewhat more effective, almost interventionist," said Mr Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of the Shell Group of Companies in Singapore, which had sponsored the event.

Yesterday, transportation dominated the discussion, with panellists calling on the authorities to consider planning the way people live, work and play such that the need for transportation is reduced.

Singapore Environment Council executive director Howard Shaw suggested that the LTA consider opening up more lanes on the expressways to ease traffic jams during peak hours, thereby lowering the carbon emissions of vehicles stuck in traffic.

Another idea broached was for the Government to consider building roads in coastal areas, so that land can be freed up for community uses.

Also, how about converting all of Singapore taxis, numbering more than 20,000 into hybrid vehicles?

"The Government can encourage taxi companies to use hybrid vehicles by providing them some incentives," said SIIA council member Collin Tseng-Liu, who noted that the competitively-priced hybrid electric car Toyota Prius is the most popular vehicle in Los Angeles. "It does not cost more than some of the taxis we see running on the road right now."

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