BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Asia Pacific could triple its carbon emissions by 2050 if it continues its unsustainable use of resources, putting an unbearable strain on ecosystems at a time of mounting concerns over climate change and food, water and energy security, a new study by the United Nations and Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns.
Asia Pacific is currently the world’s largest and most inefficient resource user. According to 2005 statistics, the region required three times the input of both renewable and non-renewable resources as the rest of the world to produce a dollar of gross domestic product (GDP), the study released Thursday said.
In 2005 alone, Asia Pacific consumed around 32 billion tonnes of materials including biomass (such as wood), fossil fuels, metals and industrial and construction materials. If this trend continues, Asia Pacific is likely to be using 80 billion tonnes of materials by 2050, said an earlier U.N. study.
If Asia’s fast growing cities have to drive its fabled economic growth, they must curb water losses drastically, and adopt best-in-class water treatment and distribution systems, say new studies released at a conference here today.
The studies were tabled at the Water: Crisis and Choices – ADB and Partners Conference 2010, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The 5-day event has brought together over 600 water professionals and policy makers from around the world to examine critical water challenges facing Asia, and the measures needed to tackle them.
“Harnessing used water will help to lighten the need to transport large volumes of water over great distances; and with lower energy consumption compared to desalination and increasing public acceptance, the market for water reuse is expected to grow exponentially,” says a study Water Reuse: Scale, Technologies and Prospects.
The study – authored by Tze Weng Kok, Xin Wei Wong, Sally Toh, Melanie Tan and Siong Teck Koh of the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency – examines the experiences of large-scale water reuse projects around the world, with a focus on Singapore’s NEWater program which has gradually gained public acceptance since it built its first facilities to treat wastewater in 2003, and can now supply up to 30% of the island state’s entire water needs. The program incorporates successful public-private-partnerships, with the water agency given full control over planning and management of water resources from source, to treatment, and to supply.
“Singapore has vested operational and decision-making responsibilities in the hands of a single agency and this is a critical step which allows holistic planning and management of water resources to meet both social and economic outcomes, as well as ensuring long-term water and environmental sustainability,” the authors say.
Another paper presented at the conference, From Loss to Profit: Structural Transformation via Reduced Non-Revenue Water, authored by ADB’s Michael White and Rudolf Frauendorfer, looks at what can be done to curb the frightening growth of non-revenue water – water that has been produced and is lost before it reaches the customer – by utilities around the region.
Water losses from leakage, inefficient collection, theft and other causes are conservatively estimated at 30% to 60% of the utilities’ water inputs, or 29 billion cubic meters a year, worth an estimated $9 billion. The losses stem from factors ranging from chronic underfunding, to weak technical and managerial capabilities, and mainly absent or insufficient business autonomy. These problems have been compounded by low water tariffs, which have left many utilities financially unviable, undermining service and coverage.
“Reducing NRW by half will enable another 150 million urban dwellers to be provided with safe water supplies,” the authors say.
With existing water supplies for cities under growing pressure from rising populations, and expanding commercial and industrial activities, the need to cut waste has become even more critical.
The study notes that local and national governments need to set their water agencies free and allow the corporate status that will give them the autonomy to plan and manage their businesses and to set tariffs that allow them to be more financially sustainable. Public utilities should look at mechanisms for attracting private sector support to stem losses, which could include outsourcing, performance-based contracts, and public-private partnerships.
The paper notes that with the right management and political backing, public utilities have shown they can dramatically cut losses, with Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority chopping its non-revenue water from about 73% in 1993 to 6% now, and the Hai Phong Water Supply Company in Viet Nam reducing waste from 73% in 1993 to 25% in 2008, as well as boosting connections almost eight-fold.
This looks amazing! Perhaps one day we will see such homes in Asia and Singapore…
Virginia Tech’s Lumenhaus, a solar-powered home that won the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe, provides a glimpse into future living. Take a tour through the home and listen to Joe Wheeler, one of three primary faculty members who worked on the project with more than 200 students, explain the home’s features and how it may change the way we live and use energy.
Tigers are on the verge of extinction. Illegal hunting, climate change, and habitat loss coupled with a lack of appropriate conservation efforts have all contributed to the steady decline of these iconic cats over the last few decades.
Now this year, in honor of 2010 being the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the International Year of Biodiversity, world leaders of tiger states are finally getting together in to discuss the problem at the Tiger Summit in Russia.
I would love to have the opportunity to do what Lewis Pugh does – extreme swims for the environment! Des
After he swam the North Pole, Lewis Pugh vowed never to take another cold-water dip. Then he heard of Lake Imja in the Himalayas, created by recent glacial melting, and Lake Pumori, a body of water at an altitude of 5300 m on Everest — and so began a journey that would teach him a radical new way to approach swimming and think about climate change.
Would it be possible some other city trumps Singapore?
Which is the greenest city in Asia? The answer to this question will be known by the end of this year when the Asian Green City Index is out.
Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) announced that they are conducting an environmental performance study on 20 leading Asian cities from 11 countries.
The countries are China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam
Read more at The Star.
One question that some of us always ask is – how come we don’t have array after array of solar panels on our amazingly uniform HDB rooftops?
We import 100% of our fuel for electricity after all, so surely the incentive is there to be at least self-sufficient for power? We did barrage Marina Bay to help reduce our water purchasing from Malaysia didn’t we?
Apparently, them panels are still too expensive, and we do live in a country where everything has to make economic sense before they’re implemented.
In an almost absurd situation, the government is aiming to make the country a clean-energy hub – we will have the world’s largest solar panel factory plant (built by Norway’s REC) in 2015. But until there are better incentives to place these panels on our – albeit shared – roofs, almost every solar panel manufactured here will be exported. [Link]
No, it will be a completely absurd situation until we take the plunge and set clear renewable energy targets.
Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) — India is targeting generation of 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022, joining China as the two Asian nations that resist emission caps draft plans to boost renewable energy before next month’s global climate change talks.