Go further in push to develop clean energy

Singapore's Climate Action Plan drawn up by the National Climate Change Secretariat is commendable in its focus to manage climate change.

With particular reference to vehicular emissions, Singapore has been encouraging its people to embrace a car-lite society.

Assuming the Republic is able to reduce the number of private vehicles on the road, the next biggest emitters of vehicular emissions would be public transport.

While I was heartened to read that the Land Transport Authority called a tender for electric buses last year, I would like to urge the public transport sector to take the lead in the green initiative.

Although some bus operators have bought new buses with the latest generation of diesel engines, they still lag behind electric buses when it comes to emissions.

Some have argued that there is still emission from grid-produced electricity, since the bulk of our electricity comes from burning natural gas, a fossil fuel.

But, the reduced emissions from a large fleet of electric vehicles would counter that.

In fact, Shenzhen has taken the bold move of converting its entire fleet of public buses to electric, reducing the pollution in one of China's largest cities and significantly reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

Other big cities like Los Angeles, London and Paris have also planned to adopt electric buses.

With the uncertain prices of oil, it is surely a prudent step.

Another thrust in the action plan is to "develop and deploy low-carbon technology".

With large corporations around the world racing towards the research, development and manufacture of sustainable energy systems, clean energy is growing at record pace while the cost of the technology has been falling.

With five polytechnics and the National University of Singapore offering courses on clean and green technologies, Singapore should be at the forefront of developing significant infrastructure that reduces our reliance on fossil fuel.

The authorities of Singapore need to take the lead in the development of the renewable energy sector and infrastructure, just like how China has now grown to be a world leader in renewable energy.

Singapore needs to welcome international corporations to play a part in growing the use of renewable energy here.

It is good that plenty of ideas have been put forth by the authorities, but it is time to walk the talk so that Singaporeans can benefit.

Alan Kiat-Leng Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Go further in push to develop clean energy'. Print Edition | Subscribe