THE REPUBLIC OF Singapore covers the main island of Singapore and 57 outlying islands, most of which are uninhabited. It covers a land area of 270 sq. mi. (704 sq. km.) and has a total population of 4,680,600 (July 2003 est.). This means that Singapore has one of the highest population densities in the world—more than 17,335 people per sq. mi. (6425 people per sq. km.). Combined with a high standard of living, Singapore has a high per capita emission level of carbon dioxide, with 15 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 1990, rising to 19.1 metric tons in 1994 and then falling to 16.8 metric tons in 1997, after which date it has fallen significantly, reaching 11.3 metric
tons in 2003. Some 98 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions come from liquid fuel, with the remainder being from the manufacture of cement.
Many of the problems associated with global warming are prominent in Singapore, which has a large urban area and increasingly smaller wooded areas. The heavy usage of electricity has come from widespread use of air conditioners, as Singapore is located in the tropics. Not only found in homes and offices, the air conditioning of shops and shopping centers has resulted in significant levels of carbon dioxide emissions, as has heavy economic reliance on industrial development and oil refineries. Another very important contributing factor has been the tourist industry, which involves well over 7 million tourists visiting the country each year—the vast majority of them arriving by airplane, with the consequent effects on the ozone layer; Singapore's Changi airport is one of the busiest airports in the world.
As shown by its reduction in carbon emissions in recent years, Singapore has long been aware of the problems faced by the government. As early as 1963, Singapore's prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, launched a "Garden City" program that encouraged the planting of trees and also the incorporation of grass verges, trees, and parks into city developments. Emphasis was made on local flora, and the project was extremely successful. The ministry of the environment was formed in 1972, with Lim Kim San as the minister, himself being succeeded by Edmund William "Eddie" Barker, who remained minister until 1979. Recent ministers have included Mah Bow Tan; Yeo Cheow Tong, who was joint minister of health and environment from 1997 to 1999; Lee Yok Suan; Lim Swee Say, acting minister and then minister; and Dr. Ibrahim Yaacob, who presided over the new ministry of the environment and water resources from 2004, reflecting the importance of water in the long-term development of Singapore.
On the international scene, Singapore has been a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and also ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on April 12, 2006, coming into force on July 11, 2006.
The smog found in Singapore in 1999 and some succeeding years following the burn-off of forests in Sumatra has led to Singapore doing much to help combat global warming. There are limitations on the use of private automobiles, with the cost of running a car being high, and extra charges to alleviate city congestion. Combined with this there has been one of the best integrated transport systems in the world, with heavy public use of buses and trains (mass rapid transport), including an efficient bus and train service to neighboring Malaysia. In the center of Singapore island, and over to the northwest, there have been reforestation programs, especially on Bukit Batok and around the water reservoirs.
SEE ALSo: Climate Change, Effects; Pollution, Air; Tourism; Transportation.
BIBLioGRAPHY. Gavin Chua Hearn Yuit, Key Environmental Challenges Facing Singapore and the Region (Singapore Institute of International Affairs, 2007); Justin Corfield and Robin Corfield, Encyclopedia of Singapore (Scarecrow Press, 2006); The Singapore Green Plan 2012 (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 2006).
Robin S. Corfield Independent Scholar
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