Energy Conservation Act (Amendment) Bill – Speech by Leon Perera

(Delivered in Parliament on 3 April 2017)


Madam Speaker, the Energy Conservation Act Amendment Bill seeks to update and improve the law that governs energy use among energy-intensive companies, so as to better position us to meet our greenhouse gas emission target under the Paris climate change accords.

Meeting these obligations is a matter of being responsible global citizens but this is also about serving the national interest of Singapore, since we have an interest in managing sea levels, ensuring clean air and so on.

I do not object to the thrust of the bill but I do have some queries and suggestions.

The Bill moves us from the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) to a Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) that takes other harmful pollutant emissions into consideration, in addition to carbon dioxide.

I agree that this is generally a good move as it means adopting a broader and more relevant definition of pollutant emissions, now encompassing hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM). It is good that it will be a requirement to label the vehicular emissions instead of just the fuel economy of vehicles, given that we are not meeting our 2020 targets for PM 10, PM 2.5 and ozone.

However under both the CEVS and VES, rebates/surcharges are not given based on actual carbon or pollutant emissions. Rather, the rebates and surcharges are based on the vehicles capacity to emit carbon or pollutants. Hence the system incentivizes purchase of more energy efficient vehicles but does not incentivize less mileage and hence less actual emission.

I suggest in future we consider moving towards an incentive system that incentivizes a reduction in actual emissions in addition to the purchase of less pollutive vehicles. Can this be considered post-2020 with the introduction of the ERP 2.0 system? If this is introduced, it should be revenue neutral with additional surcharges for mileage offset against other costs borne by motorists.

Next, I would like to query the provisions relating to conducting an energy efficiency opportunities assessment so as to obtain a clearance certificate for a new venture, which is contained in the newly inserted Section 26A. Existing businesses are also required to conduct such assessments for prescribed activities and premises under the new Section 27B.

In the new Section 27B, an energy efficiency opportunities assessment is defined as a systematic procedure by which adequate knowledge of the energy consumption profile of any business activities or premises, and cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities are identified and quantified.

Madam, I would like to ask if the Ministry or NEA will be prescribing the format for such reports and also recommend a standard or several standards of accreditation for organizations that provide such assessments, since some organizations would opt to work with third parties to generate such a report.

Since this new legal requirement may trigger a growth in third party consultants producing such assessments, efforts should be undertaken, in concert with industry bodies, to ensure that consultants offering their services to generate these reports are suitably qualified.

The Ministry should also provide more guidance to those producing such assessments, whether they are done in-house or by third parties, to ensure that these assessments can be done in a focused and hence cost-effective way that meets the requirements of the law, minimizing the risk of over-reporting and hence of consultancies over-charging, or of internal resources being wasted.

Thank you.