We’re pretty familiar with the term “carbon footprint”. There’s the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) for countries and there’re regulations imposed on companies on the way they treat pollutants and waste. Effective July 2016, SGX requires companies listed on the exchange to provide a sustainability report with a focus on their environmental impacts alongside their annual financial reports. (Love it when regulatory bodies wield their swords of authority for the right causes.)
But what about on the individual level? Yes, Singapore is probably famous for imposing fines on littering and caning for vandalism… But are there regulations against an individual’s excessive carbon waste? The closest penalty takes the form of electricity bills. But we pay for it all the same – it is simply a dollar amount deducted from our credit cards or bank accounts each month. We see it as a cost of necessity – we want light at the flick of a switch, hot water at the turn of a tap, and cool temperatures at the touch of a button.
I got curious about our energy consumption as a country on a per capita basis, compared to the rest of the world. So I looked up statistics on World Bank and here’s what I found:
We are topping the ranks again – in terms of energy use per person. We’re lower than United States and Australia but higher than Japan, Europe, UK, China, Korea, etc. Ok, one may argue that there are more rural areas in these countries – so even if they wanted to consume more energy, they have no means to do so. And anyway, the US and Australia are doing worse than us, so why bother?
Take a look at this other graph:
We’re at the bottom of this graph – because we almost do not use alternative sources of energy. And that means each kW of energy we consume in Singapore is obtained from the burning of fossil fuel = CO2 gas into the environment = carbon footprint. Granted, natural gas makes up the most of fossil fuel use in Singapore. And it is touted the cleanest fossil fuel so kudos to Singapore that we at least chose the least of the evil. But it remains an evil.
Source: Energy Market Authority Singapore
I’d like to highlight two main considerations why Singapore topping the energy consumption chart should be scoffed at:
- Compared to other countries, we enjoy no winters which, typically, are culprits for calling on massive heating systems that consume energy.
- We rely heavily on import of fossil fuel – last I remembered, our land doesn’t provide us with any natural resources. Sure, Australia and the US consume more energy per capita than us and Australia is highly reliant on fossil fuel. But they also have a lot of coal mines.
Essentially, we’re a bunch of spoilt brats – we don’t produce anything, yet consume everything; We don’t have winters, so we buy energy to create winter conditions indoors through ridiculous air-conditioning cooling systems.
What happens as a result?
- Ocean acidification
- Global warming
- Climate change
All these have intertwined causes and effects on one another. But it is the age of the humans. And the end of the world, if dawned upon us, will be caused by us truly.