SINGAPORE: Carbon emissions generated from forest fires in Indonesia present a “major setback to the global fight against climate change”, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Sep 18).
“The forest fires in Indonesia and the resulting haze have affected the health and well-being of people in Indonesia and the ASEAN region,” Mr Masagos said.
“It is regretful that so many lives and livelihoods have been impacted.”
He noted that the fires in Indonesia in 2015 generated nearly 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide.
“This was more than half of the 1.5 gigatonnes that was saved from the increased use of renewable energy globally in 2015,” the minister added.
Mr Masagos also reiterated that Singapore stood ready to provide aid to Indonesia to fight forest fires.
“We have been in touch with the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. We have offered technical firefighting assistance to Indonesia and stand ready to deploy help if requested by Indonesia, just as we did in 2015,” he wrote.
READ: Haze hits unhealthy levels across Singapore on Wednesday
READ: Cutting through the haze: When do you need an N95 mask?
Air quality in Singapore continued to worsen on Wednesday as the haze reached unhealthy levels across the island.
As of 11pm on Wednesday, the 24-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) readings were:
- 122 in the north
- 137 in the east
- 145 in the south
- 127 in the west
- 124 in the central region
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), PSI readings of 50 and below denote “good” air quality, “moderate” for 51-100, “unhealthy” for 101-200 and “very unhealthy” for 201-300.
The one-hour PM2.5 reading ranged from 102-150µg/m3 at 11pm, in the elevated band which ranges from 56-150µg/m3. The southern region had the highest levels of 150µg/m3.
PM2.5 is a measure of tiny particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter in the air. When the PM2.5 reading is in the elevated range, haze particles can affect the heart and lungs, especially in people who have chronic heart or lung conditions.
According to NEA, one-hour PM2.5 readings are a “good indicator of current air quality”, and can be used for those deciding whether to go for immediate outdoor activities, such as a jog.
The Singapore Government said it has put in place “robust action plans” to minimise and manage the impact of haze on the public.
These include making sure that there are enough N95 masks and for hospitals to be ready for any increase in haze-related cases.
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