The world’s first binding international agreement to combat climate change, the Kyoto Protocol (Protocol), was unanimously adopted in 1997 but only came into force in 2005. It was seen as the world’s solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by committing member-states (Parties) to reduce their nation’s aggregate GHG. The Protocol’s first commitment period (2008 to 2012) (1CP) sought to achieve varying GHG reductions levels of 92% to 110% of 1990 GHG emission levels depending on the country. Almost 18 years on, the world’s GHG emission levels are still rising while governments continue to debate intensely on the economic cost and benefits of the Protocol.
Notwithstanding the governmental impasse, several notable achievements have been made during 1CP:
- the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 (which emphasized the adoption of nationally appropriate mitigation actions supported by international measurement, reporting and verification);
- the Cancun Agreements in 2010 (which brought the world’s GHG emissions reduction targets under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process to ensure greater transparency in emissions reporting by all Parties, and which established a “Green Climate Fund” to facilitate financial support to developing countries); and
- the Kyoto Extension in 2011 for a second commitment period (2013 to 2017) (2CP) with nations committing to forge a binding global climate deal by 2015 and a $100 billion per year fund overseen by the World Bank in a global mitigation effort to help poorer countries adapt to climate change.
Singapore ratified the UNFCCC in 1997 and acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2006. Singapore has also welcomed the decision to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol to 2020 as agreed between the Parties recently in Doha, Qatar.
As a party to the Protocol, Singapore contributes less than 0.2% of the world’s annual total GHG emissions. However, Singapore has pledged to reduce emissions by 16% below 2020 business-as-usual (BAU) levels if there is a legally binding global agreement in which all countries implement their commitments in good faith.
A host of new initiatives have been introduced in 2012, further demonstrating Singapore’s commitment to cut emissions. For instance, the National Climate Change Strategy 2012 (NCCS-2012) was launched in mid 2012, outlining Singapore’s strategy to address climate change. This includes building capabilities to adapt to the impact of climate change, harnessing green growth opportunities as well as forging partnerships on climate change action. Singapore is also well placed to develop as a green growth hub that develops and provides green solutions to the world.
A new Green Mark for Data Centres jointly developed by Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) was recently launched in October 2012 which aims to assess data centres based on five key criteria - energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable construction & management, indoor environment quality as well as other green features. Based on the combined scoring, the data centres will be awarded Green Mark Platinum, GoldPLUS, Gold or Certified status.
It remains to see how Singapore will leverage on her strengths to further develop workable socio-economic and environmental policies to meet her reduction targets during the 2CP.