S'poreans highly aware of environmental issues but adoption of green practices lags: OCBC climate index

95 per cent of respondents who can drive were aware that travelling by car generates more CO2 emissions than travelling by train. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The average Singaporean is highly aware of environmental issues, adopts many green practices some of the time, and advocates some of these issues and practices to friends and family.

These are the findings of a climate index launched on Tuesday (Aug 17) by OCBC Bank in partnership with Eco-Business, a media and business intelligence company.

OCBC said it hopes to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people to modify their lifestyle and act responsibly.

Singapore, in recognition of the existential threat climate change poses to the island, unveiled its Green Plan 2030 earlier this year. Under the Paris Agreement, Singapore is committed to halve carbon emissions by 2050.

The inaugural OCBC Climate Index national average came at 6.7 points - with Singaporeans scoring an average of 8.3 for awareness, 6.5 for adoption and 5.6 for advocacy.

About 54 per cent of respondents had scores of between 6 and 7.9, while 30 per cent had scores of 4 to 5.9.

The highest score was 9.5, with about 15 per cent of respondents scoring between 8 and 10. The lowest average was 3.1, and just 1 per cent had scores of 2 to 3.9.

The index also showed that Singaporeans had high awareness of the environmental issues across four lifestyle themes - transport, home, food and goods - even though it was not reflected in terms of their adoption of green practices.

Ninety-five per cent of the respondents who can drive were aware that travelling by car generates 12 times more CO2 emissions than travelling by train. Yet 78 per cent of them drive for over 30 minutes a day, on average.

While 87 per cent of those surveyed said they know that air-conditioners emit the most CO2 emissions of all household appliances, 34 per cent of them use air-cons at home for more than seven hours a day, on average.

Red meat consumption is responsible for releasing greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2, and nitrous oxide.

Among respondents who eat meat, 76 per cent were aware of the environmental impact of their choice, yet almost half of them consume red meat more than twice a week, on average.

However, 77 per cent of red meat-eaters showed willingness to reduce their consumption.

Some 81 per cent knew that one plastic bag takes 500 years to degrade. Yet 78 per cent do not bring reusable bags with them whenever they go shopping.

The Climate Index found that the top two reasons for not adopting green practices were cost and inconvenience, followed by reasons such as finding it hard to maintain sustainable habits, feeling that the status quo is sufficient, not caring about the issue, and believing that individual action is too small to make an impact.

At a virtual media briefing, Ms Koh Ching Ching, OCBC's head of group brand and communications, said, the Index gives an indication of where Singaporeans are in terms of knowledge and lifestyle habits that affect climate change.

"We hope that the Index can raise Singaporeans' awareness on the carbon emissions driven from human activities and to nudge more environmentally sustainable behavioural change."

Ms Jessica Cheam, founder and managing director of Eco-Business, noted that the average Singapore resident generates over 8,000kg of carbon emissions annually according to SP Group's My Carbon Footprint calculator.

That is more than twice the world's average and far above the target to maintain a sustainable footprint, she said.

"As even small actions accumulate and contribute to a rise in global carbon emissions, every individual has a key role in reducing their own emissions by adopting more sustainable practices," said Ms Cheam.

She hoped that the Index would provide an intimate look at the attitudes and behaviour of Singapore residents towards climate change and help inform policy, business and consumer decisions.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.