True or False: Singapore to Reduce Carbon Emissions Growth by 16% from 2020 BAU Levels

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Government, Singapore

You must have already heard of the announcement yesterday that Singapore will reduce carbon emissions growth by 16% from 2020 business-as-usual levels, provided that:

Singapore will only commit to this if there is a legally binding global deal that obliges all countries to cut emissions, and if other countries offer significant pledges, said Professor Jayakumar. – Straits Times

Read more from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs news release and from the local media.

We were wondering yesterday whether the 16% cut refers to absolute carbon emissions or carbon intensity, and whether the cut is from 1990 or 2005 levels. But having read the news over again, we realised that:

Singapore’s target means it will cut roughly 12 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020, said Dr Yaacob.

This is based on a projection that the country’s emissions would reach 75 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020 if no measures were taken. – Straits Times

Singapore’s absolute carbon emissions in 2007 is about 40 million tonnes and from the statement above, it seems that the government projected that carbon emissions will reach 75 million tonnes in 2020 on a business-as-usual scenario. If Singapore takes action to reduce its emissions by 16%, the cut is equivalent to 12 million tonnes, meaning that emissions would reach 63 million tonnes in 2020. This cut is not based on 1990 or 2005 levels, it is just based on 2020 levels, which implies that there is no peak in emissions and a drop thereafter. What we would expect is a continuous increase in absolute carbon emissions till 2020.

Carbon Emissions from 1990 to 2020

The graph above shows the absolute carbon emissions from 1990 (22 Mt) to 2007 (40 Mt) based on available published data by the government. If we do a projection of the emissions from 2008 to 2020 based on an estimated 5% annual growth (BAU), we would reach 75 Mt, which is the business-as-usual scenario projected by the government.

If we do a projection of the emissions from 2008 to 2020 based on an estimated 3.6% annual growth (pledge), we would reach 63 Mt, which is the 16% cut committed or the we-will-take-action scenario projected by the government.

From 1990 to 2007, the average annual emissions growth is about 3.6%. We would expect a projection for business-as-usual scenarios for the future to use this number but the government uses a higher business-as-usual growth of 5%.

What we find funny is that when the government commits to the 16% cut by 2020, it is reducing the average annual growth in emissions from 2008 to 2020 from 5% to 3.6%, which is the same annual growth as what we have been doing over the past 17 years. In other words, if we continue business-as-usual from 2008 to 2020 without the 16% cut, we would still reach the projected 63 million tonnes in 2020 or the we-will-take-action scenario.

So, are we really reducing carbon emissions by 16% from 2020 BAU levels or are we just assuming a higher BAU level in 2020 and then committing to 16% cuts, which results in a level we would reached anyway if we don’t take any measures to reduce emissions?

Or are we just plainly wrong, make wrong assumptions and mistakes? Or did we get the maths wrong? Or maybe we are just talking rubbish and don’t know what we are talking about? Let us know what you think.

Singapore’s target means it will cut roughly 12 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020, said Dr Yaacob.

This is based on a projection that the country’s emissions would reach 75 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020 if no measures were taken.

Related Posts

Comments

8 Responses to “True or False: Singapore to Reduce Carbon Emissions Growth by 16% from 2020 BAU Levels”
  1. Charles says:

    I also did a blog post on this emissions reduction proposal. I listed seven things the mainstream media didn’t highlight. After chatting to someone about the projected 16% cut, I found a newswire that reported this cut was based on ‘current levels’. Because Straits Times and TODAY did not really mention, it has I think become a guessing game. Great article by the way

  2. Marcus Tay says:

    Great Article. I hope someone explains this cause otherwise it is really creepy that our before and after cuts carbon growth rates is still at 3.6%.

    Way too creepy and very disappointed.

    • Eugene says:

      If the economy is growing fast and if we have already done a large part of carbon reductions (by switching of fuel to natural gas), the higher 5% BAU annual emissions growth could be right.

      Would welcome anyone to challenge and prove that what I’m saying is wrong. Because I truly want to believe that Singapore is doing something to reduce emissions.

  3. nocolour says:

    the melting polar ice caps, as well as the shrinking ice-shelfs of Greenland aren’t going to wait for Singapore to be good and ready by 2020 to reduce carbon emissions.

    THIS ISN’T A POLITICAL ISSUE – IT”S AN ENVIRONMENTAL ONE> why are politicians all over the world still playing taiji over this?

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. [...] Green Dot – AsiaIsGreen: True or False: Singapore to Reduce Carbon Emissions Growth by 16% from 2020 BAU Levels – Readings From A Political Duo-ble: Debunking Singapore’s government claims on climate change [...]

  2. [...] Green Dot – AsiaIsGreen: True or False: Singapore to Reduce Carbon Emissions Growth by 16% from 2020 BAU Levels – Readings From A Political Duo-ble: Debunking Singapore’s government claims on climate change [...]

  3. [...] Today’s a good day to tell Dr Balakrishnan that it’s not just about promoting Singapore’s business and economic interests. [...]



Add New Comment

Tell us what you're thinking.