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Certification of Entitlement in Singapore

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1670
  • Category: Carbon

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Certificate of Entitlement
In this modern century where we are cultured in a technological-advanced environment, not many people can resist the enticement to drive a car. Ever since 1990, if not for Singapore’s Vehicle Quota System (VQS) using the Certification of Entitlement (COE) which significantly increases the cost of purchasing a car, most people would have acquired one. By then, it would be excruciating to see the level of traffic congestion, and more severely, the resulting carbon footprint. In the article by Ang (2012) [Appendix A], it is observed that the price of COE is increasing rapidly. In August 2012, COE’s price has reached its peak, $95k, for the open category [Appendix B]. Pricing the COE at such a lavish rate, although discourages the purchase of cars, did not dampen one’s desire to possess them. The rich continues to purchase cars while the middle-class opts for a cheaper alternative – second-hand market (Yini, 2012). As a result, COE does not help to reduce the carbon footprint.

Current Situation
High Carbon Emission
Singapore currently ranks the top with 4.20 hectares carbon-emission per capital [Appendix C] across Asia Pacific in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s living planet report (2012). This figure may be overrated as carbon-emission is measured against Singapore’s small population size. Even so, Singapore should be constantly aware of its total carbon-emission as it has almost doubled since 1990, 21.8Mt, to 2007, 39.9Mt [Appendix D]. These figures are destructive to Singapore as it strongly contradicts Singapore’s green image, thereby harming Singapore’s tourism industry. Moreover, it is detrimental to Singapore’s economic as it deprives Singapore of any credibility in international negotiations and building international relationships. Most importantly, Singapore, being known for its prosperity, can potentially deteriorate the global environment in the long-run as other countries may follow Singapore’s footsteps in increasing carbon-emission per capita so as to raise per capita income.

Contribution by the transport sector
The transport sector emerges as second largest contributor of Singapore’s carbon-emission, 19%, [Appendix E] and this illuminates the level of importance in reducing traffic population. Furthermore the accelerating car population from 400k in 2000 to 600k in 2010, [Appendix F] reflects that Singapore’s VQS is not effective.

Problem Analysis
Population Perception
From the accelerating car population, it is obvious that Singapore’s efforts to moderate the possession of cars are not supported by her citizens. Few recognised the by-products left behind by driving or have ever considered the benefits of reduced road traffic. Such unfortunate circumstances are mainly due to the upbringing of Singapore’s population who are exposed to technological advances since young. Also coupled with the population’s expectations, a car is more than just a luxury good as it represents reputation and convenience which differentiate one from the public who needs to endure travelling in crowded public transports. Besides, given everyone’s demand for high quality of life, reputation and convenience have been cultured as an essential in Singapore. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In reference to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs [Appendix G], it seems that Singapore population has neglected potential threats to their Physiological and Safety Needs but amplified the fulfilment of their Self-Esteem Needs. By owning a car, they are able to fulfil Self-Esteem Needs by gaining respect and reputation – a foundation to living a superior life. In contrast, most people do not contemplate the consequences of carbon and other greenhouse gases emission. These by-products are detrimental to the Earth, and will fuel pollution and climate change, thereby potentially robbing of one’s Physiological and Safety Needs. It is highly possible that the population do not understand the severity of these issues and neither do they understand the powerful impact they could create in staying green.

Other Government Initiatives
Ratifying to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1997 (NCCS, 2012) and the Kyoto Protocol in 2006 (MEWR, 2006), Singapore has come out with many other initiatives to stay green. A recent example would be the Singapore Green Plan (MEWR, 2012) which would not only reduce carbon-emission but also develop infrastructure to generate clean energy and improve other critical green aspects. Not only so, Singapore is currently in the midst of expanding their public transport – extending the MRT’s network to 220km (Asiaone Motoring, 2012) and cycling path (Ismail, 2012). Starting from 2013, the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) would also be launched to encourage more drivers to switch to fuel-efficient and low carbon-emission cars (Loh, 2012). For example hybrid or clean diesel cars. CEVS stringently penalises drivers if they are high on carbon-emission and provide rebates if drivers keep under a certain carbon-emission.

Although the current initiatives are effective in providing a broad strategy and limiting the car population, the root of the issue is still not targeted – Perception of the population. As such, initiatives used should incorporate empathy to steer the population’s perception, for example using Communication-Education-Involvement.

Channels of Communication
More channels could be set up to convey the green message to the public. For example, coming up with a section call “Sing Green” in the Straits Time on a consistent basis where improvements of climate, experiences, achievements and benefits of companies who are staying green can be shared. By sharing, it continually emphasizes the message of staying green.

Educating the Young
We can also target future sustainable leaders as young as Primary School students so that they can cultivate as a strong green value. A new non-examinable subject, “Protect your home” can be included in students’ curriculum where students could work on green projects.

To leverage on the current infrastructure, annual green cycling or running event could be held to involve the public and at the same time, remind that cycling is always an alternative. Funds collected during the event could be used as incentives to reward people who stay green. Conclusion

Staying Green is a difficult issue, and Singapore has a long way to go as decreasing car population constitutes only a small part to staying green. Also, just by Singapore’s sole effort is not sufficient. A larger community effort needs to come together to make staying green happen. However in the future, I believe success would find its way as countries have been influencing each other in their green efforts. For example, China has implemented the VQS recently (China Daily, 2012). In conclusion, COE alone is not able to highlight the importance of staying green. This can only be successful with other government’s strategies, coupled with continuous Communication-Education-Involvement to gather the whole community effort.

List of References

Ang B., (2012, April 23). Will flat and COE prices break ceiling?. The New Paper. Retrieved from http://business.asiaone.com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20120422-341278.html Asiaone Motoring. (2012, September 7). 220km MRT network by 2021. Tabla!.
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