On April 4, Singapore announced that authorities had seized 12.9 tons of pangolin scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The scales were found in a shipping container destined for Vietnam, along with 390 pounds of elephant ivory. Pangolins are critically endangered, and the conservation group WildAid estimates that roughly 100,000 pangolins are poached from the wild each year. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-wildlife-trafficking/singap….
Beginning January 1, 2020, Singapore's Maritime Port Authority will ban discharge into the ocean of "wash water" that is created when ships capture sulfur from engine exhausts using open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers. The ban is being imposed to prepare one of the world's busiest ports for International Maritime Organization rules that will require ships to use cleaner fuels beginning in 2020, including reducing the sulfur content in fuel from 3.5% to below 0.5%.
A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. They are appealing to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to re-route the 50 km (31 mile) Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, rather than through it.
A court in Singapore approved the release of a shipment of rosewood from Madagascar, which had been seized by Singapore over a year ago. The timber, worth more than $50 million, was recently shipped without permits and in the face of a national ban on such exports. Singapore District Judge Jasvender Kaur dismissed the case against the company Kong Hoo for importing 30,000 rosewood logs from Madagascar in March 2014. The judge argued that the rosewood was in transit to Hong Kong, and there is no evidence that the logs were imported into Singapore.
On September 25, Singapore closed all primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education, due to high levels of air pollution. The sharp decline in air quality and persistent smog come from Indonesian forest fires. According to the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the three-hour pollutant standards index reached 320 on September 24, exceeding the maximum threshold of 300. The haze from the Indonesian forest fires has already led Singapore to cancel certain outdoor events and change flight schedules this past month.
A new cross-border air pollution bill approved by the Singapore government last week has the potential to crack down hard on polluters. The law seeks to address the problem of air pollution in Singapore that is caused by smoke from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. The legislation provides enforcers with a relatively low threshold to prove that a country outside of Singapore has caused air pollution, and allows for fines of up to S$100,000 per day (US$79,980), with a S$2 million maximum (US$1.6 million).
Last week, the Singapore government proposed legislation that would levy substantial fines on companies responsible for air pollution that crosses over the border from Indonesia. Air pollution in Singapore reached record levels in 2013, due in part to forest fires in Indonesia, and experts predict that this year’s haze could be worse than last year’s pollution. The drafted changes to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill would fine companies S$100,000 for each day of haze and S$50,000 for each day the company fails to comply with preventative measures, for a maximum penalty of S$2 million.
Singapore-based Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader, has signed a policy committing to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain. Over the past decade, the palm oil industry has become one of the leading drivers of tropical deforestation. As Wilmar controls 45 percent of the palm oil market, the new policy could have far-reaching environmental effects. Wilmar says that the policy will cover all its operations, including the company’s non-palm oil holdings and its dealings with third-party suppliers.
Singaporeans were urged to stay indoors last week as a haze from Indonesian forest fires dramatically worsened, with air pollution levels hitting their highest since 1997. The pollutant standards were above the "hazardous" level, at which point air quality can trigger respiratory ailments. Pollution from forest fires has hit Singapore and Malaysia often, but, according to The Guardian, this year's pollution has strained diplomatic ties as officials in Singapore demand that Jakarta do more to stop plantation owners from clearing land by starting fires.