Parallel Plenary:Adaptation and Mitigation Measures – Implications for Production and Consumption
Chair: Asst. Professor Ivy Tan
Venue: MND Auditorium
WHO: Professor Euston Quah
Head of Economics, Nanyang Technological University
WHAT: Cities and Sustaining the Green Environment: Some Reflections on Prerequisites
The challenges faced by cities are fundamentally different from those faced by national entities or countries. Cities encounter more resource scarcity but have more uniform states of development as compared to countries. These characteristics imply that cities have more potential as well as more pressing need for efficient allocation of scarce resources. Cities should strengthen the use of various decision making tools, such as cost-benefit analysis, green accounting, valuation of non-market goods and damage schedules to arrive at pragmatic environmental management and policies. Three environmental challenges that cities are facing or will face are highlighted to illustrate the significance of pragmatic environmental management and policies: facility siting, trans-boundary pollution and global warming. The motivation behind creating a sustainable city is re-examined. Although sustaining the green environment is an important cause, one must not forget that the aim of public policies is to improve the citizens’ well-being. There might also exist some conflicts between what decision-makers identify as priorities as against what truly are the priorities of its city residents. Since cities are likely to be heterogeneous in their preferences, by allowing cities some flexibility in their pursuit of green policies instead of establishing common environmental benchmarks for all cities, it is likely that the negotiation of international environmental treaties can make more progress.
WHO: Associate Professor Matthias Roth
National University of Singapore
WHAT: The Role of Cities in Mitigating Climate Change
For the first time, about half of the world’s population is now living in urban areas and future urban growth is predicted to accelerate, particularly in the developing world. As a consequence of such dramatic urban expansion, cities exhibit the clearest signs of anthropogenic climate modification. Alterations include the transformation of the radiative, thermal, moisture and aerodynamic characteristics of the surface and the atmosphere, thereby dislocating the natural solar and hydrologic balances. Several of urban environmental problems are directly or indirectly related to the climate of these cities. Urban areas are also the source of most greenhouse gases which are considered the main culprit of global warming.
This presentation will explain the mechanisms and effects of the urban climate and explore how such knowledge can be applied to the improvement of human settlements. The urban heat island and adaptive climate design to reduce the energy use in cities will be topics discussed in more detail using examples from Singapore and other cities. It is clear that cities are not only the major source of present environmental problems but also a potent force for sustainable development that should be harnessed.
WHO: Mr Christophe Inglin
CEO of Phoenix Solar
WHAT: Singapore’s Solar Challenge
Conventional practice has been for us to import all our fuels, because conventional wisdom has been that Singapore has no natural resources, and energy from fossil fuels has so far remained relatively cheap.
But that might soon change, forcing us to rethink our energy policies. Fossil fuels are finite. So are nuclear fuels. The question is not if they will run out, but when. Prices will escalate again as the global economy recovers and we compete against bigger neighbours for ever scarcer supplies. Do we have an alternative?
The expiry in 2011 of Malaysia’s 1961 agreement to supply cheap water to Singapore provided the trigger for us to develop our strategy of water self-sufficiency. Do we need an equivalent prospect of non-renewal of fuel supply to prod Singapore into energy independence?
What if we pre-empt that scenario, by setting ourselves a clear target for renewable energy supply? The sun is our most obvious natural fuel resource. Combined with systematic improvements in energy efficiency, solar power could meet 20% of Singapore's electricity needs by the year 2020. Are we up to the challenge?