Best of our wild blogs: 21 Feb 18



Singapore Raptor Report – January 2018
Singapore Bird Group

The Pathway to Paris: A Commentary on the Carbon Pricing Bill
ELSA@NUS Law


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Singapore's Restaurants Take A Stand Against Shark Fin Consumption

Christine Amour-Levar Forbes 21 Feb 18;

Shark fin soup has been a tradition at Chinese festive celebrations and wedding banquets, but growing demand of shark fin soup is pushing sharks to extinction and disrupting the balance of our oceans. Without sharks, the entire ocean ecosystem could be altered, negatively impacting humans and ocean dwellers alike.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a quarter of sharks and rays are facing extinction in the coming years. Today, 100 million sharks are killed annually around the world, driven by demand for their fins and meat. Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan are the top importers of shark fins globally. The fins are supplied by Indonesia, Spain, India, the United States and Argentina, which account for almost half of all shark landings in the world.

In 2017, Singapore was identified as the world's second-largest trader of shark fins after Hong Kong. Between 2012 and 2013, Singapore exported $40 million worth of shark fins, closely following Hong Kong’s $45 million, and imported $51.4 million worth of fins, compared to Hong Kong’s $170 million.

Nevertheless, Singaporeans are increasingly aware of this grave problem, and according to a recent survey by WWF, nine out of ten people in the island state care about sharks going extinct, while eight out of ten have stopped consuming shark fin over the past year. Despite this, there is still a significant group of people who believe sharks can be grown in fisheries. Many fisheries across the world have tried this but to-date, only one has been able to farm one species: the spiny dogfish. All sharks sold in Singapore today are caught in the wild.

Furthermore, some countries have regulations that only allow shark fishing if the whole animal is brought to land. Yet, this does not make the practice sustainable.

Thanks to the growing awareness of the impact sharks’ extinction could have on our environment, the #NoSharkFin movement is gaining momentum around the world and particularly in Singapore. And as the island celebrates the Lunar New Year, businesses across the country are taking action against serving shark products.

Last week, 89 Singapore-based establishments committed to phasing out shark fin in 2018. These include brands such as Crystal Jade, Pan Pacific Hotels, AccorHotels and Foodpanda, whose policy applies across its 3,800 partner restaurants.

Chinese restaurant group, Crystal Jade Culinary Holdings, has committed to removing shark fin dishes from the Chinese New Year set menus across all restaurants in Singapore under its portfolio. From 31 July 2018, shark fin will no longer feature on the menus of its 28 restaurants. “Seafood remains a prominent part of Chinese cuisine. This decision to phase out shark fin, a long-established traditional dish, is our first step towards protecting oceans and seafood supplies as a socially-responsible business. We will continue to offer premium alternatives in place of shark fin,” said Cynthia Yee, Senior Vice President, Marcom, Crystal Jade Culinary Holdings. The company is confident that the move will improve customers' perceptions and lead them to patronize its restaurants more often.

The Pan Pacific Hotels Group, which is headquartered in Singapore, has stopped serving shark fin across its 34 properties and 7 restaurants around the world as of 1 January 2018. F&B delivery service, Foodpanda will also remove shark-related dishes from the menus of the restaurants listed on its platform starting 5 March 2018. Its head of marketing and sustainability lead Laura Kantor said that currently, just 93 out of 3,800 restaurants on the platform serve shark fin and less than 1% of total orders include shark fin.

This move signals a collective effort by the F&B industry to address the serious threat that shark fishing poses. “As sustainable options do not exist for sharks, halting consumer demand is the only solution today.” said Elaine Tan, Chief Executive Officer of WWF Singapore.

This is WWF's largest collective pledge by the F&B industry in Singapore to date. Establishments will phase out shark fin in one of three ways; by completely removing shark fin from their menus, by not serving shark fin for a trial period of time or by removing shark fin from menus and serving it only upon request or on a case-by-case basis.

Environmental issues related to consumption of shark meat and fins are not new among consumers in Singapore and abroad. Over the last five years, about 18,000 hotels worldwide have removed and banned shark's fin from their menus.

Consumption of shark fin soup in China has fallen by around 80% since 2011, thanks to a celebrity-driven public awareness campaign and a government crackdown on extravagant banquets. But the good news is offset by an alarming rise in the consumption of this prestige dish in places like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Macao, according to a new report by WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that campaigns to curb demand for wildlife products.

Continued public awareness, effective legislation and ongoing scientific research remain essential to the future safeguarding of many shark species, even as conservation efforts continue.


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Industries left guessing as Cambodia fails to release customs data for 2017

Hor Kimsay Phnom Penh Post 20 Feb 18;

When government-aligned Fresh News reported on Sunday that bilateral trade between the US and Cambodia had increased to $3.46 billion last year, up more than 8 percent from the year before, they weren’t using Cambodian government data.

Nor was the state-run Agence Kampuchea Presse using government statistics when it reported in November that trade with Vietnam was up sharply in 2017, quickly approaching the $5 billion target set by both governments.

And nor were figures released in recent weeks of bilateral trade with Indonesia, Japan and China originating from Cambodian sources. Instead, they were relying on customs data from foreign governments, whose reports are currently the only available source of data for the majority of Cambodia’s trade last year.

That’s because while Cambodia’s trade partners around the world have begun to report last year’s trade numbers for the Kingdom, the Cambodian government has yet to release any numbers of its own for the last nine months of 2017.

“The lack of quality statistics is still a sensitive issue in our country, and this needs more effort for improvement,” Mey Kalyan, chairman of the board of directors at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and a senior adviser to the government’s Supreme National Economic Council, said yesterday.

The absence of timely data frustrates academics and investors who rely on the information. What’s more, amid revelations of massive irregularities in the import and export of several commodities – among them timber, sand, citric acid and, most recently, Wagyu beef – the sluggish reporting does little to quell concerns that much of Cambodia’s cross-border trade goes unpoliced and underreported.

Responsibility for trade data and enforcement falls to the Customs and Excise Department, which is under the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). An MEF spokesman contacted yesterday directed questions directly to the Customs Department, which has no spokesman. The department’s director, Kun Nhem, did not respond to multiple calls over the past week.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay, meanwhile, told The Post last week that his ministry had only received data from the Customs Department for the first three months of 2017.

Kalyan stressed that problems with customs data were common in many countries and, while acknowledging he had heard complaints from “big investors” about the lack of official information, he said he was optimistic that improvements would be made in the near future.

“I believe that relevant institutions are [making improvements], and we acknowledge it needs time,” he said. “We always want faster improvement.”

Illicit or unreported trade has plagued a variety of Cambodia’s industries in recent years.

The Kingdom was prompted to ban sand exports to Singapore in the middle of last year after it was revealed that the city state had imported 77 million tonnes of sand from Cambodia since 2007, while Cambodia had recorded less than 3 percent of that amount as exports. The revelations raised immediate accusations of impropriety in the environmentally controversial sector.

More recently, Vietnamese customs data from earlier this month reported $40 million worth of timber imported from Cambodia, in flagrant violation of Cambodia’s countrywide export ban on timber to Vietnam. Cambodian export data consistently report the timber trade with Vietnam as nonexistent.

Industry leaders in the $300 million rubber sector told The Post last month that they were unable to make a profit due to widespread smuggling of rubber into Vietnam, while the Cambodian Rice Federation said in its 2017 annual report that rampant smuggling of rice into Cambodia from Vietnam threatened the health of the entire rice industry.

At an event hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce just last week, business leaders complained that counterfeit goods flowing unhindered into the Kingdom were eating into their profits. Em Wutthy, a Ministry of Interior official who attended the event, said at the time that most customs officials “don’t have enough staff to check the border checkpoints”.

In one of the more unusual examples, a report published on Sunday by the Nikkei Asian Review asked whether Cambodia could be a “Japanese beef-laundering hub”, noting that the country was the world’s top importer of Wagyu beef, despite the prime Japanese meat – known for its eye-popping prices – being sparsely available in what is one of Asia’s poorest countries.

Imports of Wagyu into Cambodia spiked in 2011 after Vietnam banned the beef. Four years later, a beef-smuggling operation busted in China – which had also banned Wagyu – snagged 13 tonnes of meat that was originally shipped from Japan to Phnom Penh.

The opacity of the government’s customs data is also a source of frustration among academics trying to study Cambodia’s export-driven economy.

Teng Delux, an economics lecturer at several universities including Pannasastra University and University of Cambodia, said yesterday that difficulty obtaining trade and investment statistics from Cambodia’s institutions hindered important economic research about the country.

“The lack of statistics is a problem for conducting research and any study that reflects the needs of Cambodia’s development,” Delux said, noting that the lack of data often forced researchers to use outdated or informal statistics.

“All relevant institutions should strengthen cooperation among each other to gather and produce accurate statistics, and make it easily available for the public,” he said.


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Indonesia: Disaster alert declared in four Indonesian provinces as forest fire threat looms

VICTOR LOH Today Online 21 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — Indonesia's disaster agency has declared disaster alert status for four provinces, including Riau province near Singapore, as the number of hotspots from forest fires spiked.

The affected provinces are South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.

The alert status will allow the central government to mobilise resources to easily mitigate any fire threats, the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 21).

The four provinces — which lie close to the equator — are currently entering the start of the dry season, BNPB added.

The dry season in Indonesia usually happens in two phases: From the middle of January to March, and June to September. It is interrupted by the rainy season from March to May.

In the last 24 hours alone, weather satellites are said to have detected some 90 hotspots in Indonesia.

On Tuesday, data from the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) showed two hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

ASMC on Feb 7 raised the transboundary haze alert for the northern Asean region to level 2, which is the 2nd highest alert level.

"The prevailing dry weather conditions in the northern Asean region are forecast to continue till early April 2018, and further escalations of hotspot activities can be expected in the region in the coming weeks," ASMC had said.

Singapore is currently experiencing the dry phase of the North-east Monsoon, with winds blowing from the North-east direction.

Indonesia has stepped up efforts to tackle the transboundary haze problem since 2015, when the country suffered some of its worst forest fires, resulting in a haze that affected tens of millions of people in the region.

Forest, land fires spread to 633 hectares in Riau
Antara 21 Feb 18;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Forest and land fires have spread across Riau Province, reaching 633 hectares since Jan 14.

The most difficult and worst fires were found in Sepahat Village that shares its borders with Bengkalis District and Dumai. Riau`s Forest and Land Fire Task Force has received assistance from Asia Pulp & Paper of Sinarmas that has provided a Super Puma helicopter to conduct water-bombing operations in the burnt area, ANTARA observed here on Tuesday.

The team was able to carry limited equipment due to the difficult terrain that led to accessibility issues.

According to the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) of Riau in Pekanbaru, the fire has spread to some 12 hectares in the Altaf Agencie Residential area of neighborhood associations 04.

Meanwhile, land fires spread in the Kualarenanggan Hamlet, Lubuk Kembang Bunga Village, in Pelalawan District, reaching 30 hectares; Simpang Lecek Ujung Street, Sungai Segajah Jaya, in Rokan Hilir District, reaching five hectares; and Sri Tanjung Rupat Village in Bengkalis District, engulfing 30 hectares.

An assessment of the burnt areas around Riau`s city and district revealed one hectare in Rokan Hulu, 21 hectares in Rokan Hilir, 86.25 hectares in Dumai, 88 hectares in Bengkalis, 211.5 hectares in Kepulauan Meranti, 2.5 hectares in Siak, 31 hectares in Pekanbaru, 15.25 hectares in Kampar, 31 hectares in Pelalawan, 121.5 hectares in Indragiri Hulu, and 24 hectares in Indragiri Hilir.

Pekanbaru City`s condition seemed better, as no fog appeared following rainfall in the morning. Until this afternoon, the sky was cloudy.

Starting from February 19 to May 31 in 2018, Riau has declared a standby emergency status for forest and land fires. The Riau government took the decision following an increase in the number and area of hotspots in early 2018.

Riau needs assistance from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency to provide a helicopter for conducting water-bombing operations and to implement the weather modification technology to prevent forest and land fires, Head of Riau`s BPBD Edwar Sanger stated.

Reported by FB Anggoro
(T.KR-TQA/b003/INE)
(T.SYS/A/KR-BSR/B003)
Editor: Heru Purwanto


Two arrested over fires allegedly set to clear land
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 20 Feb 18;

As authorities in Riau crack down on illegal logging and slash-and-burn practices, two residents have been arrested in separate locations after reportedly being caught red-handed clearing land for oil palm plantations.

A resident of Kepenuhan Baru village identified as S. was arrested by Rokan Hulu Police and Kepenuhan Police personnel for allegedly setting fire in the village of Sei Air Hitam in Central Kepenuhan last Friday.

“The arrest of the suspect began with hotspot information released by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). After coordinating with Kepenuhan Police, we searched the fire spot using coordinates from satellite data,” Rokan Hulu Police criminal investigation division head Adj.Comr. Harry Avianto said on Tuesday.

Police later apprehended the suspect, who was hiding in a hut not far from the burned land. He is currently detained by Rokan Hulu Police for questioning.

In Pelalawan regency, a joint team for peatland and forest fire prevention comprised of police and military personnel, Environment and Forestry Ministry officials and rangers of the Tesso Nilo National Park detected illegal logging in a conservation area on Sunday.

“The team confiscated an excavator. The 28-year-old operator of the equipment, identified as LH, a resident of Air Molek in Indragiri Hulu regency, was straightaway taken into custody, because the excavator had entered the national park without permit,” said Pelalawan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Kaswandi. (ebf)



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Malaysia: Wildlife rangers act to stop rampaging herd of pygmy elephants

muguntan vanar The Star 20 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers have moved in to stop a herd of 20 endangered Bornean pygmy elephants from rampaging farm lands and a school in Sabah’s central Telupid district.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the elephants had entered the compound of SMK Telupid on Tuesday (Feb 20).

This was apart from disturbing farms lands and properties of villagers in Telupid, about 250km from here.

“Our target is to translocate at least three of the more aggressive ones,” he said when contacted.

However, due to cost factors, his rangers would try and push back the remaining elephants into the forest reserve.

“It cost us about RM30,000 to translocate one elephant. It will be too costly to translocate the whole herd,” Augustine said.

He said the operations to capture the more aggressive ones would be done within the week and they planned to translocate the jumbos to the Imbak forest reserve.

“It depends on how fast we can catch the few elephants that we want to relocate. Hopefully this can be done by the end of the week,” he said.

In some cases, translocations were carried out as part of efforts to conserve the elephants which are critically endangered in Sabah.


Herd of 20 elephants terrorising Telupid
muguntan vanar The Star 21 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers have moved in to stop a herd of 20 endangered Bornean pygmy elephants from rampaging farm land and a school in the central Telupid district.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the herd entered the compound of SMK Telupid yesterday morning.

He said the priority was to translocate at least three of the more aggressive elephants.

Due to the cost factor, he said rangers would try and guide the remaining elephants back into the forest reserve.

He said the operation to capture the more aggressive ones would be done within the week, adding that they planned to translocate the jumbos to the Imbak forest reserve.

“It depends on how fast we can catch the few elephants that we want to relocate. Hopefully by the end of the week,” he added.

Telupid residents have in the past complained about elephants encroaching onto their property.

Three 'aggressive' pygmy elephants to be captured and relocated
POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM New Straits Times 20 Feb 18;

TELUPID: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) will capture and relocate three Borneo pygmy elephants found roaming around villages here to reduce the likelihood of human-elephant conflicts.

SWD director Augustine Tuuga said once caught, the elephants would be relocated to the Imbak forest reserve located about 100km from here.

When contacted, Tuuga said the animals were dangerous and difficult to control.

“We have tracked down 20 elephants at six locations, and 18 of the mammals are moving in two herds while another two are moving individually.

“We will only relocate three aggressive elephants and we expect to conduct the operation this week,” he said.

Tuuga also said it was impossible to relocate all 20 elephants due to the high cost of the operation, which amounted to RM30,000 per elephant.

The six identified locations are Kampung Liningkung, Kampung Bauto, Kampung Gambaron, Kampung Telupid, Pekan Telupid, and SMK Telupid.

The elephants were spotted in the areas since last year and they are believed to be from the same group that trespassed into Deamakot forest reserve recently.

Meanwhile, Sandakan SWD officer Hussien Muin said the operator of Pan Borneo Highway project has agreed to help pay for the installation of a 6km-long electric fence at Kampung Gambaron and Bauto to keep the elephants at bay.

He said the department and non-governmental organisations were training youths from three villages, namely Kampung Liningkung, Bauto and Gambaron, to be appointed as honorary wildlife wardens.

These wildlife wardens, he said, are responsible for monitoring the electric fence once it is completed. He added that the RM330,000 fence is expected to be installed early next year.

The New Straits Times Press previously reported that a group of young people from Kampung Gambaron had constructed cannons using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to prevent elephants from destroying property and crops.


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Indonesia: Overcoming challenges in developing "Bay of Paradise"

Otniel Tamindael Antara 21 Feb 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - In the development of tourism sector in the "Bay of Paradise," better known as the Cendrawasih Bay National Park area that stretches in the border of Papua and West Papua provinces, the local government is faced with many challenges.

So many things are put in its path. From time to time the local government finds itself in the situation where it is required to make all types of decisions to overcome the challenges.

The Office of Cendrawasih Bay National Park (TNTC) has designed a master plan to develop potential tourism in that area but the problems of waste, environmental pollution, and public resistance to the presence of tourists become great challenges in the development.

Cendrawasih Bay National Park Office Chief Ben G Saroy has said the central government was focusing on tourism development, and that, the regional government should welcome the initiative by overcoming the challenges.

As the largest marine national park in Indonesia, the more than 1.4 million-hectar Cenrawasih Bay National Park was declared Marine National Park on September 2, 1993 by the Decree of Ministry of Forestry No. 472/Kpts-II/1993.

About 95 percent of the park is made up of coral and seas, and the rest covers the mainland occupying 68,200 hectares of land and coastline.

Administratively, the TNTC includes three districts in two provinces, namely Wondama Bay and South Manokwari districts in West Papua, and Nabire district in Papua.

However, Saroy reiterated that waste, environmental pollution, and public resistance to the presence of tourists remain the biggest challenges in tourism development in this area.

"Local communities do not like visiting tourists because they have not understood how they can benefit from the presence of visitors for pleasure and interest," Saroy remarked in Manokwari, West Papua.

Their dislike to the presence of tourists becomes the biggest challenge in tourism programs in "the Bay of Paradise National Park", and for that, it takes serious efforts to change the paradigm of the local society about the need for tourism development.

Further, the TNTC Office chief noted that the problem of waste and pollution was easier to solve, but overcoming the public resistance to the tourist presence should be done seriously and cautiously.

Saroy mentioned that the Cendrawasih National Park Office holds a cooperation with the the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the local government to develop the concept of community-based tourism in Wondama Bay, Nabire, and South Manokwari districts.

In addition, the establishment of Village Owned Enterprises (BUMDes) continues to be done in villages that have great tourism potential.

"This is our effort to reduce people`s resistance to the presence of tourists. They must be directly involved as agents in managing tourism sector," Saroy explained.

The TNTC Office also drafted a regional regulations that have been addressed to the government of Nabire and Wondama Bay. The regulations have been discussed in that two districts.

After the regulations are approved, the TNTC Office will also push to draft a rule on the rate for tourism in that districts and will also support that every village should have its own regulations.

The regulations are necessary so that the tourism in this area could be well managed and beneficial in terms of improving the community welfare.

In addition, the TNTC and WWF had already facilitated a number of villages that will be promoted as tourism villages.

"In Nabire, we will assign one village in Soa, while in Wondama Bay, We focussed in Aisandami, and Gunung Botak in South Manokwari," Saroy said, adding that those three areas are the strategic access for visitors in exploring the whole areas of the national park.

The management of tourism in the area is expected to be effective and efficient for foreign and domestic tourists.

Saroy expressed hope that the presence of tourists in the area of Teluk Cenderawasih National Park will continue to increase. In 2019 the construction of the Sowa Resort and Whale Shark Center in Kuwatisore, Nabire, will begin.

In 2020 and 2021, the development will continue in Purup and Aisandami Resorts, Wondama Bay.

To build a resort and whale shark monitoring center in these three locations the central government has allocated a budget of Rp74 billion.

Hence, WWF-Indonesia has also promoted law reinforcement regarding illegal trade of endangered marine species as a conservation commitment which has been put in the front. Support from local community is a public appreciation for conservation practice in marine protected area of the Cendrawasih Bay National Park.

Besides, the TNTC Center also continues to preserve six species of endangered sea turtles living in the waters of the Birds Head area of Papua and West Papua provinces.

Therefore, the people living in the coastal areas of the national park have been urged to continue to preserve the habitat of these turtles.

Of the six species of sea turtles living in the TNTC area, the largest population inhabits the Wairundi Island in the northeast of South Manokwari district, West Papua province.

TNTC is representative of the coral reef ecosystems, beaches, mangroves, and tropical forests on Papua Island.

(T.O001/A/KR-BSR/B003) 21-02-2018 01:16:26
Editor: Heru Purwanto


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Plastic bans worldwide will dent oil demand growth, says BP

But oil giant expects demand for crude to grow and not peak until late 2030s
Adam Vaughan The Guardian 20 Feb 18;

Bans around the world on single use plastic items such as carrier bags will dent growth in oil demand over the next two decades, according to BP.

However, the UK-headquartered oil and gas firm said it still expects the global hunger for crude to grow for years and not peak until the late 2030s.

Spencer Dale, the group’s chief economist, said: “Just around the world you see increasing awareness of the environmental damage associated with plastics and different types of packaging of one form of another.

“If you live in the UK that’s clearly been an issue, but it’s not just a UK-specific thing; you see it worldwide, for example China has changed some of its policies.”

Theresa May has branded plastic waste an environmental scourge, and MPs have called for charges on plastic bags to be extended to disposable coffee cups.

Dale predicted such measures around the world could mean 2m barrels per day lower oil demand growth by 2040.

But he said single use plastics were only about 15% of all non-combusted oil, which is used for petrochemicals, an industry that BP expects to be a big driver of global growth in crude demand.

The company’s energy outlook report, published on Tuesday, forecasts demand peaking at about 110m barrels per day between 2035 and 2040, up from around 97mb/d today. Much of the growth comes from rising prosperity in the developing world.

But Dale said his position was that “nobody knows when it’s going to peak because small changes can shift it by five to 10 years”.

BP envisages demand plateauing rather than peaking and suddenly declining. Other experts and oil companies see demand peaking much earlier as governments’ climate change policies and new technologies begin to bite; for instance, a Fitch report (pdf) says demand could peak in 2030 because of electric vehicles.

BP also looked at the impact of a more stringent and global version of the bans on petrol and diesel cars that governments such as those in France and the UK have pledged by 2040 and that China is considering.

Even with such a strong measure, the modelled effect would be limited on oil demand and emissions. The former would drop by 10mb/d, which is significant but not disastrous for oil firms if BP’s prediction of 110mb/d of demand comes to pass.

Emissions would be lower than without a ban, but still grow 7% by 2040 because of more vehicles on the road, a disastrous increase for meeting climate change goals.

BP has almost doubled the amount of electric cars it expects in 2035 globally, up from 100m in last year’s outlook to 180m now. By 2040, 320m of the world’s 2bn cars will be electric, the firm thinks.

But the company believes the advent of driverless cars, which are expected to overwhelmingly be electric, means battery-powered cars will be used more intensely than conventional ones, offsetting some of the emissions cuts they promise.

BP also believes if there were more electric cars than expected, there would be fewer efficient combustion engine cars as a result.

Asked what impact electric cars would have on curbing oil demand, Dale said: “Almost nothing.”

The economist said one of the big surprises of the past year had been the falling cost of renewables, and continued strong government policy support for them.

“Massively surprised by renewables again. We revised up renewables again,” he said. The amount of power expected from renewable sources such as solar and wind is now expected to be 8 terawatt hours in 2035, up from the 5tWh predicted three years ago, and is the fifth year to be revised upward by BP.

Critics noted that every year since the company’s energy outlook was first published in 2011, it has forecast a slowing of renewables growth, only to be proved wrong every time.

Dale said the impact of the US leaving the Paris climate agreement would be limited on carbon emission reductions, since most cuts are coming elsewhere, but the world was missing the leadership role that the US had played at climate talks under Barack Obama.


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Best of our wild blogs: 20 Feb 18



Poem: Heartstrings of my Island
Flying Fish Friends

Now available: "The Singaporean Seas and Shores" by Wild Drawings
Celebrating Singapore Shores!


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Budget 2018: Large emitters to be charged S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions under carbon tax

Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 19 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: In a downward revision from the previously announced range of between S$10 to S$20, large emitters in Singapore will be charged S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions under the carbon tax that will be implemented next year.

This will give the industry more time to adjust and implement energy efficiency projects. Following that, the tax rate will be reviewed by 2023, with the intention of increasing it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne by 2030.

The review will consider global climate change developments, the progress of Singapore’s emissions mitigation efforts and its economic competitiveness, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget speech on Monday (Feb 19).

The carbon tax will affect emitters that produce 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions in a year, he confirmed, adding that the Government expects to collect carbon tax revenue of nearly S$1 billion in the first five years.

The first carbon tax is expected to be paid in 2020 based on emissions in 2019.

“The carbon tax will encourage businesses to take measures to reduce carbon emissions,” Mr Heng said, noting that large emitters account for about 80 per cent of Singapore’s emissions.

“Companies that do so will be more competitive, as more countries impose tighter limits on their carbon emissions and international agreements on climate change like the Paris Agreement take effect.”

The Government is also prepared to spend more than S$1 billion in the first five years to support projects that reduce emissions. As part of this, it will set aside funds from next year to support companies in improving energy efficiency.

This will be done through schemes like the Productivity Grant (Energy Efficiency) and the Energy Efficiency Fund, Mr Heng said. In addition, more support will go to projects that achieve greater emissions reductions.

“I urge companies to do their part for a higher quality living environment for all by putting in meritorious proposals for emissions abatement and energy efficiency,” he added.

TO BENCHMARK OR NOT

The downward revision comes after large emitters voiced concerns about how the carbon tax might be implemented amid fears it could affect international competitiveness.

As opposed to a flat rate, many wanted the carbon tax to be implemented based on emissions performance benchmarks for fairness. This system allows those that perform at or better than the benchmark to get free allowances.

However, the Government has decided to implement a credits-based carbon tax uniformly across sectors with no exemptions.

“This is the economically efficient way to maintain a transparent, fair and consistent carbon price across the economy to incentivise emissions reduction,” Mr Heng said.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the decision was reached on the basis that each unit of emissions contributes equally to climate change, regardless of whether the emissions came from emitters that perform better or worse than the benchmark.

In addition, determining benchmarks for each sector and ensuring that they are equitable across sectors is a complicated and contentious process.

The development and implementation of benchmarks is also data-intensive and would impose additional reporting and verification requirements on companies, especially for sectors with specialised products.

IMPACT ON HOUSEHOLDS "SMALL"

When it comes to households, the impact of the carbon tax will be “small”, Mr Heng stated, making up about 1 per cent of total electricity and gas expenses on average.

The carbon tax is expected to translate to a rise in electricity prices of about 0.21 cents per kWh, assuming the full tax is passed on to end-users.

To help households adjust, the Government will provide additional Utilities-Save (U-Save) rebates from 2019 to 2021. During this period, each eligible Housing and Development Board (HDB) household will receive S$20 more per year.

“The increase in U-Save will cover the expected average increase in electricity and gas expenses for HDB households arising from the carbon tax,” Mr Heng said.

To that end, a 4-room flat household will get a U-save rebate of S$320 a year after the increase. The same household is expected to pay an additional S$9.70 a year on average in electricity and gas expenses due to the carbon tax.

“MEWR (Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources) will also work with the community to help households save energy, and will announce more details at a later date,” Mr Heng added.

Source: CNA/hz

Large emitters, observers welcome initial carbon tax rate of S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions
Aqil Haziq Mahmud and Monica Kotwani Channel NewAsia 20 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: Large emitters and environmental observers have welcomed the progressive implementation of the carbon tax, saying that it encourages companies to adopt energy efficiency measures while giving them the time to adapt to the changes.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his budget speech that large emitters in Singapore will be charged S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions under the carbon tax that will be implemented next year.

The tax rate will be reviewed by 2023, with the intention of increasing it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne by 2030. The review will consider global climate change developments, the progress of Singapore’s emissions mitigation efforts and its economic competitiveness, Mr Heng said.

Mr Yu Tat Ming, chief executive of PacificLight, a power generation company, welcomed the Government’s proposal to review the carbon tax over time.

“The initial imposition of S$5 per tonne encourages industry to implement efficiency improvements and consumers to adapt their consumption pattern,” he said. “Future changes in the carbon tax can be made by the government depending on how close Singapore is to achieving its emission targets.”

The carbon tax is just one in a range of measures aimed at reducing emissions intensity in Singapore by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.

Likewise Mr Steven Fries, chief economist at Royal Dutch Shell, said the carbon tax represents an “important step” in meeting Singapore’s emission targets.

“However, it is important to design this tax so that it will be an effective incentive to cut emissions and also support industry competitiveness, both of which are Government goals,” he added.

To that end, Mr Yu said he still supports the setting of industry benchmarks based on “best in class” targets to encourage efficiency improvements without compromising future economic growth.

“International experience has shown a good way to deliver on both objectives is for Governments to set an appropriate carbon ‘price’ on emissions which exceed an acceptable industry performance,” Mr Fries added.

“This allows the government to set a carbon price high enough to incentivise companies to be more efficient, while safeguarding competitiveness by keeping the average carbon tax low.”

Still, Ernst & Young tax analyst Chia Seng Chye believes the carbon tax is a “good start”.

“It's also about creating the right kind of behaviour, incentivising emitters who proactively manage their carbon emissions, rather than treating it purely as a source of additional tax revenue for the Government,” he explained.

The progressive nature of the carbon tax also lets emitters warm up to it, he added. “So after 2030, when the rate is actually increased, they would not find it so prohibitive in terms of the cost.”

Energy Studies Institute research fellow Melissa Low said the time frame of five years before the tax is reviewed is an “adjustment period” for companies to become more efficient.

“The current fleet of power generators, such as turbines they have for example, is about 15 years of age, and the technology purchased by them is ‘locked-in’ for decades,” she explained.

In addition, 2023 is also when countries - as part of the Paris Agreement - will do a global stocktake on what has been achieved so far, she pointed out.

Therefore, that will be a good time for the Government to review whether current carbon tax has worked in reducing emissions, as well as to review its suite of measures, she said.

More importantly, Ms Low pointed out that unlike the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme which provides “free allowances” to certain emitters, Singapore’s carbon tax system does not exempt anyone.

So while the carbon tax rate might be lower than the previously announced range of between S$10 and S$20, it still sends a price signal to companies, affecting their bottom lines, she added.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Nee Soon GRC Lee Bee Wah said the carbon tax sends a “very clear” signal that reducing carbon emissions is an issue that needs to be dealt with.

Dr Lee, who also sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Environment and Water Resources, said the progressive nature of the tax gives companies the time and space to adapt.

“As Minister Heng mentioned just now, he's prepared to spend more than what he collects for companies to come up with innovative solutions, so it gives a balance,” she added.

HOUSEHOLDS SHOULD PLAY PART

Beyond what emitters can do, Mr Yu stated that achieving emissions targets would require a “concerted effort” from all parties.

“On the demand side, the carbon tax must achieve the intended objective of encouraging consumers to adopt efficient practices and appliances,” he said.

To that end, he noted that the carbon tax would likely impact customers, adding that it would cost his company an additional S$8.25 million a year.

“As an electricity retailer, we shall do our part to cushion the impact on consumers,” he said. “For example, we encourage our customers to consume energy during off-peak hours, when electricity prices are likely to be lower and we can operate our plant more efficiently.”

The carbon tax will make up about 1 per cent of total electricity and gas expenses on average, translating to a rise in electricity prices of about 0.21 cents per kWh, assuming the full tax is passed on to end-users.

To help households adjust, the Government will provide additional Utilities-Save (U-Save) rebates from 2019 to 2021. During this period, each eligible Housing and Development Board household will receive S$20 more per year.

MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa, who also sits on the Environment and Water Resources GPC, said the rebates would be “more than enough” in offsetting the increase in electricity bills.

“I think these are schemes that have to be put in place to help mitigate the impact of all these tax increases,” he said.

Source: CNA/hz


Carbon tax of $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions to be levied
Audrey Tan and Toh Wen Li Straits Times 19 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - All facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions in a year will have to pay a carbon tax from 2020, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Monday (Feb 19).

The carbon tax will initially be $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 to 2023.

However, the Government will review the carbon tax rate by 2023, with plans to increase it to between $10 and $15 per tonne of emissions by 2030.

"In doing so, we will take into account international climate change developments, the progress of our emissions mitigation efforts and our economic competitiveness," Mr Heng said.

The finance minister said the Government expects to collect a carbon tax revenue of nearly $1 billion over the first five years, and is prepared to spend more than this in the same period "to support worthwhile projects which deliver the necessary abatement in emissions".

He added that the carbon tax will apply uniformly to all sectors, calling it " the economically efficient way to maintain a transparent, fair and consistent carbon price across the economy to incentivise emissions reduction".

A carbon tax is a common tool used to control the amount of earth-warming greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. About 67 countries and jurisidictions, including China, the European Union and Japan, have implemented or announced plans to implement such a scheme. Its aim is to incentivise emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.

Professor Euston Quah, head of the economics department at the Nanyang Technological University, said it was timely for Singapore to adopt a carbon tax.

He said: “It sends a signal to those whose activities cause damage to society, whether in the form of human health or environment, that they must be responsible for their actions.”

The carbon tax will be levied on 30 to 40 large emitters that contribute 80 per cent of Singapore’s greenhouse gas emissions.

They are mainly from the petroleum refining, chemicals and semiconductor sectors, with each emitter producing more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases a year. This is equivalent to the emissions produced by the annual electricity consumption of 12,500 four-room Housing Board flats.

As for the remaining 20 per cent, Mr Heng said the Government "will study how to account for these emissions, and take action where necessary".

The first payment will be in 2020, based on emissions in 2019. The tax will be levied on each facility's total emissions.

For households, the impact of the carbon tax will be small, at "about 1 per cent of total electricity and gas expenses on average", Mr Heng said.

An additional U-Save rebate will be provided for three years to help HDB households.

Eligible HDB households will each receive $20 more per year, from 2019 to 2021.

This will cover the expected average increase in electricity and gas expenses arising from the carbon tax, Mr Heng said.

Two companies that will be affected by the new tax expressed reservations about it.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil Singapore said the petrochemical firm was committed to working with the Government to reduce the risks of climate change but added that “affordable energy” was important to support economic growth and ensure Singapore’s competitiveness.

A spokesman for oil company Shell expressed concern with the flat tax rate.

He said: “We should be incentivised to perform better and deploy best-in-class technologies – a flat carbon tax will not provide the appropriate incentives to do so.”

In a dialogue with the Government last month, companies that would be affected had asked if the carbon tax could be implemented via a differentiated approach.

But Mr Heng, noting the need for a uniform carbon tax, said on Monday: “This is the economically efficient way-to maintain a transparent, fair and consistent carbon price across the economy to incentivise emissions reduction.”

Meanwhile, petrol, diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) already have excise duties which encourage the reduced use of such fuels, so they will not be affected by an additional carbon tax.

In 2012, Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions came up to a total of 49 million carbon dioxide-equivalent tonnes.

That year, the industry sector accounted for about 59 per cent of Singapore's total emissions, of which 41 per cent was from direct emissions and 18 per cent from electricity use.

As part of the Paris Agreement, Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity (emissions per dollar of GDP) by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, the same year it aims to have emissions reach a peak.

Mr Heng said that from 2019, he will set aside funds to give companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises and power generation companies, better support to improve their energy efficiency.

These include schemes such as the Productivity Grant (Energy Efficiency) and the Energy Efficiency Fund. Projects with greater reduction in emissions will receive more support.

Executive director for Singapore Green Building Council Yvonne Soh said such schemes could help companies overcome the cost barrier for energy efficiency initiatives.

“A number of such incentive funds or assistance schemes already exist, but more support is always welcomed as energy efficiency is usually not on the top of most companies’ minds," she said.


Time to get serious about saving energy
Audrey Tan Straits Times 20 Feb 18;

A tax will never be welcome, but it can be timely. The carbon tax that Singapore will levy on large polluters from next year is one such example.

The tax - details of which were announced yesterday by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat - comes against a backdrop of rising temperatures and increasingly erratic weather.

Last year was Singapore's warmest year on record - excluding years influenced by El Nino, a weather phenomenon associated with hot and dry weather in this part of the world. The Republic is also experiencing more bouts of intense rainfall - such as the one on Jan 8 that led to flash floods in its eastern parts.

That these effects can already be felt here highlights the urgent need for action. And a carbon tax is one direct way to tackle climate change - by trying to get large polluters to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Singapore's introduction of a carbon tax is also in line with carbon pricing strategies adopted by other countries to reduce greenhouse gases.

As Singapore marks its Year of Climate Action this year, its move to get ready for the roll-out of the carbon tax next year shows how serious it is in tackling the global threat of climate change.

About 67 countries and jurisdictions, including China, the European Union and Japan, have implemented or announced plans to implement carbon pricing schemes, which incentivise emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.

In Singapore, the carbon tax will initially be set at $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions until 2023, although the plan is to increase this to between $10 and $15 per tonne of emissions by 2030.

This will be levied on the 30 to 40 companies responsible for the lion's share of emissions here, but households will experience a knock-on effect - a 1 percentage point increase in total electricity and gas expenses on average, Mr Heng said.

As the implementation of the carbon tax next year follows the full liberalisation of the retail electricity market in the second half of this year, households will be able to choose which retailer they wish to buy electricity from.

Professor Euston Quah, head of the economics department at the Nanyang Technological University, said competition will put pressure on energy retailers to keep their prices competitive by not passing on the full cost of the carbon tax to consumers.

The impact of the carbon tax will also be cushioned by the additional utilities rebates that eligible HDB households will get from next year to 2021.

This gives consumers some time to form energy-saving habits, which could include turning off power at the socket when appliances are not in use, or using more energy-efficient appliances.

The introduction of the carbon tax is a timely move which reminds both companies and individuals that it is time to get serious about saving energy.


Singapore Budget 2018: Power generation company looks for ways to be greener
Audrey Tan Straits Times 20 Feb 18;

PacificLight is one of the newest kids on the power generation block.

Its $1.2 billion plant on Jurong Island began operating four years ago and is fitted with relatively new equipment, making it more energy efficient than older plants.

Since then, the firm has spent another $5 million to further reduce its carbon footprint, said its chief executive Yu Tat Ming.

This is done, for instance, by redesigning the fuel-supply system in its plant to bypass two energy-intensive compressors.

These efforts have led to a 1.5 per cent reduction in the plant's carbon emissions - equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road.

But despite this, PacificLight's annual operating cost is set to go up by $8.25 million in 2020, when the first carbon tax payment is due. The payment will be based on emissions next year.

The carbon tax will initially be set at $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions until 2023, with plans to increase it to between $10 and $15 per tonne by 2030, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced yesterday.

A carbon tax is commonly used around the world to control the amount of earth-warming greenhouse gases that is released into the atmosphere.

But Mr Yu said that it would be a challenge for his plant to become "greener", considering that it is relatively new and already fitted with energy-efficient fixtures. The life cycle of an industrial plant is about 25 years, and it is usually retrofitted only at the midway mark.

Mr Yu said a differentiated carbon tax system - in which companies that are more energy efficient pay less or even no tax while those that are less efficient pay more - would be fairer.

But he acknowledged that there is always room for improvement. "We will continue to look for ways to improve energy efficiency at our power plant, however modest they may be," he said.

One way is to install energy-saving devices, such as solar-powered lighting, throughout the facility.

PacificLight will also look into increasing the use of solar energy within its premises and those of its customers.

Mr Yu said the company will find ways to continue to supply its customers with energy "in as green a way as possible".

Audrey Tan


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Emissions of new Jurong Island coal gasification plant will be ‘closely monitored’

Today Online 20 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE – The new coal gasification plant on Jurong Island will be subject to the carbon tax that kicks in next year, and its emissions will be “closely monitored to minimise the impact on the environment”, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang on Monday (Feb 19).

Mr Lim was replying to Nee Soon Member of Parliament Louis Ng, who questioned how the new plant – which will feed the refining and chemicals industries – would align with Singapore’s climate commitments.

Coal is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming.

The Government has designated 2018 the Year of Climate Action, but the coal gasification plant will increase Singapore’s carbon footprint. Mr Ng questioned how the different messages sent out to the public could be reconciled.

Keppel Infrastructure, a division of Keppel Corporation, was selected last year by the Economic Development Board (EDB) to develop and operate the facility.

The plant will produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide – or feedstock – from coal for the energy and chemicals sector.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources has worked with the EDB and Keppel Infrastructure to put in place strict regulations and standards on emissions of carbon-dioxide and air pollutants, said Mr Lim.

The plant will deploy best-in-class mitigation technologies and will recycle potentially hazardous fly ash that will be generated.

The authorities had explored different ways of producing the feedstock, and gasification appears to be the “most sensible approach”, said Mr Lim.

The Government tries to achieve a “delicate balance” between business opportunities and its environmental commitments, he said.

“On the one hand, we have a fairly thriving chemicals and energy sector, contributing to 1.8 per cent of our gross domestic product, employing more than 25,000 workers, all very good jobs,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve made very strong commitments on the Paris Agreement and the Singapore Government intends to meet those commitments.”

Singapore has pledged to cut its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030.

Mr Lim said the coal gasification plant is needed because Singapore’s refining capacity of 1.3 million barrels per day has “not changed for many decades”.

“So we need the additional feedstock and therefore we’ve looked towards gasification of coal,” he said.

The plant is not for power generation, he added. “We want to assure members that in terms of energy generation, we’re still depending on gas, which is the least pollutive of all, supplemented by solar energy in a limited way.”

Meanwhile, Nominated MP Mahdev Mohan asked if Singapore banks would be required to restrict lending for coal power projects, in the wake of reports that DBS, OCBC and UOB have provided loans totalling more than US$2 billion over the last five years for 21 such projects in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam.

Local banks recognise the environmental, social and governance risks of coal power projects, said Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the Minister-in-charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The region’s energy needs are growing rapidly and consumption of all fuels – including coal and renewables – will grow.

Singapore banks have been taking steps towards more environmentally responsible financing practices, added Mr Ong, who is also Second Minister for Defence.

With guidelines issued in 2015 by the Association of Banks in Singapore, the banks are reviewing their clients’ sustainability profiles and working with the clients to improve practices. By the end of this year, the banks are expected to complete a review of their entire customer portfolios, said Mr Ong.

The authorities are also taking steps to enhance the green-finance ecosystem in Singapore, such as expanding the breadth and depth of green-finance products, he said.


Singapore Budget 2018: S$250m set aside for sustainability projects
JAMIE LEE Business Times 19 Feb 18;

THE government will launch an Energy Grid 2.0 to develop next-generation energy grid architectures that can respond quickly and reliably to changes in energy demand and supply, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday.

Singapore has also begun work on a "Closing the Waste Loop" project, using technology to minimise the environmental impact of the waste generated.

Meanwhile, the Cities of Tomorrow R&D programme was launched last year to drive innovation in urban development.

These three programmes will cost S$250 million.


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Malaysia: Three mutilated green turtles found near Pulau Mabul

NASRAWATI SYARIFUDDIN New Straits Times 19 Feb 18;

SEMPORNA: Three mutilated green turtles were found floating near the renowned Pulau Mabul diving spot near here, this morning.

This came after shocking reports of pictures taken by tourists yesterday of landings of 15 giant rays, including a vulnerable ray species - the oceanic manta (Manta birostris), as well as a shark, at the popular island.

The 9.20am discovery was made by a part-time photographer, who was bringing a group of Chinese tourists to a nearby island.

The turtles with their stomach ripped apart were floating about two kilometres away from Mabul.

The photographer, who wished to be known only as Joe, could not remove the turtle carcasses from the location because he was worried the tourists would get uncomfortable seeing marine life killed.

"This can damage the image of Semporna, which is known for its rich marine life and ecosystem in the tourism sector," he said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed receiving information about the mutilated turtles.

"We have sent our officers to investigate the matter. I have thought with several individuals being sentenced to jail (for turtle poaching), this problem would not reccur.

“But, it looks like there are still (turtle) poachers in the (Semporna) district," he said.

In Sept last year, hundreds of bones from dead sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna.

The discovery was made by a team from the Wildlife Department investigating a report about dead sea turtles being spotted on a beach on the island.

The bones were found near Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Kampung Amboh-Amboh and Kampung Sampolan on the island.

The following month, another seven turtle carcasses, with their stomach exposed, were found floating in waters near Mabul.

A group of islanders, who made the discovery at night, pulled the carcasses to a secluded area away from a resort to avoid drawing attention.

In mid-October last year, two Filipino men were sentenced to a four-year imprisonment and fined RM150,000 after they pleaded guilty to possessing turtle shells an plastrons without permit.

Last month, another Filipino man was sent to three years in prison and fined RM60,000 for possessing turtle shells.


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Indonesia: Sabah – last haven of the orang utan

Muguntan Vanar The Star 20 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A new study in the scientific journal Current Biology has found that 100,000 orang utan have died in the past 16 years, with Sabah likely to be the last haven for the critically endangered species.

Two Sabah-based co-authors of the study, Dr Marc Ancrenaz and Dr Benoit Goossens believe that steps taken by the Sabah government would see the survival of the orang ­utan in the wild.

“We sincerely believe that the major orang utan populations in Sabah are secure thanks to the commitment from the Sabah government to protect 30% of the state’s land mass.

“Moreover, hunting is not a big issue here, compared to some other parts of Borneo island.

“There is definitely hope for wildlife in the state.

“Sabah might, in the future, be the last place where it would be possible to find wild orang utan,” the two scientists said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Ancrenaz, who is co-director of the NGO Hutan, said the study found that the rate of decline in orang utan on the island of Borneo was more rapid than they had initially thought.

“If we cannot stop this decline, many more are going to disappear in the next few decades.

“It also means that there were more orang utan in the past than we thought, and this illustrates how difficult it is to know exactly how many wild orang utan survive in Borneo,” he said.

The major reason for the decline, said Dr Ancrenaz, is the killing that happens in unprotected and protected areas.

Forest conversion for agriculture explains less than 50% of the decline.

“This also means that it is urgent to change our approach to conserve orang utan,” Dr Ancrenaz said.

For Sabah, Dr Goossens who is director of Danau Girang Field Centre said most large orang utan populations have been relatively stable for the past 20 years due to the state government’s efforts to create new fully protected forests and also set aside 30% of its forests as totally protected areas.

“The efforts by the Sabah government increases the chance of survival of orang utan in Sabah,” he added.

Dr Goosens said that there were still ways to improve the long-term survival of the iconic species in Sabah.

They include creating more forest corridors that will allow the orang utan to move across the landscape and find new areas where they can set up their own territories.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Augustine Tuuga had earlier refuted the findings of the study led by Maria Voigt from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

Tuuga had said that the study had misguided the world community into believing that 6,100 orang utan were killed between 1999 and 2016 and failed to show the efforts by Sabah to protect its biodiversity.


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