Friday, November 02, 2007

Top 5 Per Capita Carbon Emitting Countries

In 2005 when I was on exchange in the University of California Santa Barbara, I saw a large poster on the door of a professor. The poster consisted of a world map indicating the top 10 Carbon Emitters in the world. To my dismay and resigned disbelief, Singapore is one of them.

Since then, I have been trying to find the source of this information online. Even as I was working on Singapore's carbon emissions for my Environmental Issues assignment, I had difficulty finding proof.

However, today, I noticed this map on the climate change notice board outside my office.

Top 10 Per Capita Carbon Emitting Countries 2006
Source: www.mapsofworld.com

Finally! Proof that Singapore IS one of the top 10 per capita carbon emitting countries in the world. In fact, we are in the top 5! This is definitely a "first" that we do not want to be proud of.

Top 10 Per Capita Carbon Emission 2005
Source: Earth Policy Institute

In fact, according to the Earth Policy Institute headed by Lester Brown, Singapore was #2 in 2005. We must have gotten our act together in 2006 or that we simply increased our population. But then again, I do not know the source of the 2006 map so it's difficult to provide a fair comparison if they are calculated differently.

So how is it that I missed it before? Blame it on my lousy research skills but the interesting thing is that if you search for top carbon emitting countries, Singapore is far from the top! In fact, in terms of total, we do not produce that much. However, if you look in terms of per capita emission, meaning the amount of emission per person - taking the total emission of a country divided by its population - we immediately shoot right to the top!

Why? This is because for a very small nation, we produce a whole lot of carbon emission!

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So do not be fooled if people tell you that Singapore's carbon emission is really nothing compared to the rest of the world. Sure, it doesn't compare to China who has to deal with emissions of 1.3 billion people or the US who has 300 million eager consumers. In fact, most of Singapore's fuel consumption is from power generation (51%) and industry (31.7%). Our electricity consumption is also from industry (43%) and buildings (31%). Power generation and our oil refining industries are one of the biggest sources of carbon emission in Singapore. Singapore processes approximately 1.3 million barrels of oil in our refineries every day! Think about the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from that alone?

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On the brighter note, the government is stepping up efforts to tackle Singapore's contribution to climate change through its E2PO taskforce. According to the E2PO publication, efficient power generation is one of its strategies. In fact, PowerSeraya Ltd "will commission an 800MW natural gas-fired co-generation plant by 2010 to replace its three oil-fired steam units. This... will help the company reduce its overall carbon dioxide emissions by a further 10% in addition to the 30% reduction over the last 10 years". Tuas Power and Gas Supply Pte Ltd also came up with a join project to develop the first 5MW trigeneration plant completed in October 2007 to reduce carbon emissions by 17% per annum. Another 9.2MW trigeneration facility will reduce carbon dioxide emission by 24% yearly. This is due to open in mid-2008.

I guess this might explain the fall in ranking by Singapore from 1996 to 2006! We have gone from #2 to #5. Hurray! But what happens when we build another oil refinery in the near future?

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Then again, these calculations are always problematic of course. If you noticed on the 2006 map, it states that Guam is the 10th highest per capita carbon dioxide emitter in the world. Guam is a small little island territory of USA in the north pacific with a population of 180,000 people and land area no bigger than Singapore. Unfortunately, due to the US military base on the island, Guam generates and consume more energy per person than Singapore does! The smaller the population, the higher chance of having a high per capita carbon emission.

Still, it is logical because one would not expect a small nation to be producing excessive amounts of carbon. Most of the top per capita emitters are usually countries dealing with oil and associated industries with very small population. Still you don't see Brunei on that list!

5 comments:

heardth said...

Singapore's CO2 output is not going to fall even when PowerSeraya converts over.

The major contributing factor for CO2 is from petrochemical and refining activities. There are already expansion plans in place. You can find them in the papers.

Monkey said...

yes i know that. I'm trying to think positively ok in case people criticize me for being anti-development! grrr

Can't please everybody but in case people are interested in the new oil refinery plans
http://www.wildsingapore.com/news/20070708/070705-4.htm

Currently, just with the oil refineries that we have, it's already producing tonnes and tons of carbon emission.

List of Oil Refineries in Singapore:
* ExxonMobil Jurong Island Refinery (ExxonMobil), 605,000 barrels per day
* SRC Jurong Island Refinery (Singapore Refining Corporation), 285,000 bpd
* Shell Pulau Bukom Refinery (Royal Dutch Shell), 458,000 bpd

Monkey said...

interestingly, this goes to show that while the government makes a show of tackling climate change, it seems to be tackling all the wrong issues?

They are focusing on "energy efficiency" while increasing more oil refineries.

This is like what I said about not getting fooled when people tell you that Singapore doesn't produce much carbon emission.

Eveline said...

Singapore is an oil refining hub. There's no way Singapore is going to reduce its investment in this industry.

Minus the carbon impact from exported products and it would give a fairer per capita emission level.

Seraya's case is a matter of bo pian ;) In fact any power station repowering is going say that there will be carbon reduction simply because the newer machines are getting more efficient. Otherwise, might as well don't repower :)

pinto said...

I remember Singeo came across a map depicting the world's top oil consumers (per capita). We topped the list. Then I found out that 'consumption' includes oil refining activities. Not saying it's a mitigating factor, but it shows you how much has been invested in that area.

Like Eveline, I don't think this is going to change any time soon.

Heh. Of course Brunei has much lower carbon emissions. We are the ones refining their oil!