(Oct 8): Singapore has reached out to Indonesian authorities to offer assistance and urge action in combating the “perennial scourge” of haze on the region, with no response from Indonesia thus far, the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources said in written responses to Parliament queries Monday.

Here are more comments from the ministry regarding the haze issue:

  • Fires in Indonesia have released 360 million tons of carbon dioxide since August, equivalent to more than Spain’s emissions for the whole of 2018; the two-month haze episode of 2015 cost Singapore $1.83 billion in health costs, lost productivity, and diminished tourism and business
  • “Singapore is supportive of the Indonesian government’s continuing efforts to suppress the forest and land fires. We recognise President Joko Widodo’s personal attention and efforts in tackling this problem. The key is to prevent the fires from starting in the first place”
  • Singapore has contributed $5 million to the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre for a regional capability building program to monitor haze, including hotspot activities, and build predictability around weather and climate
  • “We will not tolerate the irresponsible actions of errant companies, whether Singapore-based or otherwise, that harm our environment,” and the National Environment Agency still has cases open with four companies that were issued legal notices in 2015 to take immediate measures to stop fires that caused haze affecting Singapore
  • Noting that consumer choices and demand can help shape forestry and palm oil industries’ actions, MEWR says, “as more consumers opt for sustainable products, this will incentivise companies to adopt more sustainable practices which in turn contributes to reducing haze”
  • The government maintains a 28-agency Haze Task Force, in place since 1994, that has been focused since mid-September on protecting especially vulnerable groups such as elderly, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic diseases
  • All primary and secondary school classrooms have been equipped with air purifiers, and the Haze Task Force is ensuring that sufficient stocks of masks are in warehouse and available to be pushed to retail stores