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Cablegate: Singapore Announces 16 Percent Emissions Cut Goal

VZCZCXRO5017
RR RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGP #1150 3360914
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020914Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7483
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001150

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

Dept for OES/ENV

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV KGHG ECON SN

SUBJECT: SINGAPORE ANNOUNCES 16 PERCENT EMISSIONS CUT GOAL

1. (U) SUMMARY: Singapore announced plans to reduce its carbon
emissions by 16 percent before 2020 if a global agreement on climate
change is reached during next week's talks in Copenhagen. Singapore
did not provide details about the measures it would institute to
drive the cuts. Prime Minister Lee will lead the Singapore
delegation in Copenhagen. In the context of climate talks,
Singapore opposes using per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) as
the only measure to determine countries' climate change mitigation
responsibility and capability. Singapore contributes less than one
percent to global emissions but its per capita emissions are high.
Singapore considers itself an "alternative-energy disadvantaged"
country and is home to many greenhouse gas intensive industries.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Singapore pledged on December 2 to reduce carbon emissions
growth by 16 percent below "business as usual" levels before 2020 on
condition that a global agreement on climate change is agreed during
talks in Copenhagen. The Government of Singapore (GOS) hosted a
limited press conference on December 2 to announce the emissions
targets, but did not provide details about the regulatory and fiscal
measures that would drive the emission cuts. Singapore will likely
provide more information about those measures after the talks in
Copenhagen, Lee Choon Phua, Assistant Director in the International
Relations Division at the Ministry of Environment and Water
Resources told Econoff.

3. (SBU) Phua indicated that officials from Singapore would start
departing for Copenhagen at the end of the week. The Singapore
delegation participating in the climate talks is expected to
include: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Senior Minister Professor
S. Jayakumar, Chair of Singapore's Inter-Ministerial Committee on
Climate Change; and Minister for the Environment and Water
Resources, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim.

4. (SBU) Singapore is a small, low-lying country dependent on
imports of water, food and energy, and it is concerned about rising
sea levels and the potential increase in the prevalence of
vector-borne diseases like dengue fever that could result from
climate change. However, Singapore is also concerned about the
effect climate change could have on its open and trade-oriented
economy if countries use environmental standards as a form of
protectionism that impedes the flow of trade, contacts in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Organizations Directorate
told Econoff.

Developed Economy; Limited Alternative Energy
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Singapore has relatively high per-capita greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions, though overall Singapore accounts for approximately
0.2 percent of global emissions. In the context of UN negotiations
on climate change, Singapore views itself as an "alternative-energy
disadvantaged" country and opposes using per-capita gross domestic
product as the only measure of Singapore's climate change mitigation
responsibility and capability. Singapore, despite being a highly
developed and wealthy country, is not an Annex I country under the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

6. (SBU) Roughly 50 percent of Singapore's GHG emissions come from
power generation, which will remain dependent on fossil fuels (i.e.,
natural gas) for the foreseeable future. The GOS is investing
heavily in research and development of renewable energy
technologies, but Singapore lacks the wind speeds to implement wind
power locally and has substantial cloud cover, making solar power a
limited option. Singapore has put more emphasis on energy
efficiency by restricting car ownership, encouraging "green"
building, and offering incentives for households to reduce energy
usage. In 2009 the GOS published a Sustainable Development
Blueprint, which outlined goals to improve energy efficiency by 20
percent by 2020 and 35 percent by 2030. Still, Singapore remains a
hub for manufacturing, oil refining, shipping and aviation, which
are all GHG-intensive sectors.

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