Environmental Issues in Singapore

Bishan Park, Singapore

Environmental responsibility for Singapore is vested in the Ministry of the Environment and its Anti-Pollution Unit. Air quality is protected by the Clean Air Act, as adopted in 1971 and amended in 1975 and 1980, and by the Clean Air (Standards) Regulations of 1975. Regulations limiting the lead content of gasoline were imposed in 1981, and emissions standards for motor vehicles were tightened in 1986. Air pollution from transportation vehicles is a problem in the nation’s growing urban areas. In 1992, Singapore was among 50 nations with the world’s highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totalled 49.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 17.99 metric tons. In 1996, the total rose to 65.8 million metric tons.

Water quality is regulated through the Water Pollution Control and Drainage Act of 1975 and the Trade Effluent Regulations of 1976. Singapore does not have enough water to support the needs of its people. In total, the nation about has 0.1 cubic miles of water. 4% is used for farming and 51% for industrial purposes. Pollution from the nation’s oil industry is also a significant problem, and its cities produce about 0.9 million tons of solid waste per year. Waste water is treated and recycled to conserve water supplies. Altogether, Singapore has lost 20 to 30% of its original mangrove area.

Care of the environment takes place at numerous levels – from industrial waste management, emission controls, and water recycling, down to littering; Singapore is renowned as being possibly the cleanest city in the world. To combat air pollution, the government has strict vehicular exhaust emission controls; the sight of black fumes pouring out of a car, common in the 70s, has been completely eradicated. Furthermore, most cars use unleaded fuel.

There is a growing environmental consciousness among citizens evidenced by the initiatives taken by ad-hoc citizen groups and non-governmental organizations to protect the environment. The government also plays an active role in educating the public: the Green Labelling Scheme, for example, has been implemented to promote ‘green’ consumerism among the public and to encourage manufacturers to produce eco-friendly products. This growing awareness is also seen in the building industry where public recognition is accorded to ‘intelligent’ buildings designed to reduce electricity consumption by way of better insulation materials, automatic dimmers, and similar innovations.

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