Singapore, the world’s island city-state and home to 5.6 million people, is the first Southeast Asian city to join the #BreatheLife campaign.
The city joins over 32 cities, regions and countries that have committed to reducing the number of deaths from air pollution by 2030 under BreatheLife, a joint campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to get cities and individuals to take action against air pollution.
Its domestic air quality targets are aligned with the World Health Organization’s guidelines. While the heavily-urbanised island’s overall air quality is comparable to that of many major cities of developed countries, it continues to work towards meeting its full set of targets, including targets for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), sulphur dioxide and ozone.
Singapore comprehensively monitors ambient air quality both to advise the public on the general health effects associated with different pollution levels and precautions to take, as well as to assess the effectiveness of policies and control measures implemented and refine its approach and strategy. This includes the continuous monitoring of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide. The data collected on these air pollutants is reported hourly and also used to generate a Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level, a measure of Singapore’s air quality.
The city-state continually strives to meet its air quality targets through a multi-pronged approach, which includes regulation, incentives, enforcement, monitoring and education.
To reduce vehicular emissions, the country has implemented Euro VI emission standards for petrol and diesel vehicles in 2017 and 2018 respectively (up from the Euro IV standard for petrol vehicles and Euro V for diesel vehicles), which would reduce ambient levels of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter in the city. To raise fuel quality, which reduces pollutants and harmful carcinogen (e.g. benzene) emissions from vehicles, the Euro V standard for petrol and diesel quality was implemented from 1 Jul 2017 and 1 Jan 2017 respectively.
To reduce industrial emissions, the country announced tightened emission standards over a range of pollutants (e.g. mercury, cadmium, lead, ammonia and hydrogen fluoride) for new and existing industrial plants from 2015 and 2018 respectively.
Singapore also works with other countries in the region that have similarly been affected by transboundary air pollution from smoke haze from land and forest fires. Within ASEAN, it works with ASEAN member States to address these issues through the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP).
Along with a number of other countries, Singapore made voluntary commitments at the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3), where four other participants also joined the BreatheLife campaign.