Haze Singapore 2020
Singapore is struggling with the increasing haze or air pollution caused mainly by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.
For example, last year, the Singapore government passed the Haze Pollution Transboundary Pollution Act, which gives it the power to prosecute and punish those found responsible for setting fires. Fines of up to $100,000 are planned for those found guilty of causing or tolerating forest fires that cause unhealthy smog or haze in Singapore. These fires are being deliberately started by individuals or companies interested in clearing land.
The NEA said the deterioration in air quality was due to winds blowing more smoke and haze from Sumatra, south of Singapore. In January and last month, fires ravaged parts of Indonesia, Malaysia’s second-largest economy and home to more than 1.5 million people.
The NEA warned that the PSI could enter the middle of the unhealthy range if thick haze is blown in. Dry weather is expected over the next few days, with the possibility of more smoke and haze in the air.
The Indonesian government has declared a state of emergency after forest fires broke out in several parts of the country in recent days, with around 700 hot spots approaching the start of the dry season. The occurrence of drought leads to weather conditions that can lead to forest fires in some regions, particularly in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry said forest fires had broken out this year through the end of September and hotspots were detected by satellites that predict a 50% chance of a forest fire breaking out. Good air quality in Singapore and Malaysia has deteriorated in recent days as haze from the fires has swept across the border in Indonesia. As described in Appendix III below, these hotspots were discovered in the east of the country, with a satellite indicating a minimum 50% chance of forest fire.
Singapore has been hit hard by haze in recent days, leading to air quality being deemed unhealthy for everyone. The air quality index (AQI) values were above 160, with the sensitive group being classified as unhealthy and all as unhealthy.
A new haze crisis has emerged in Indonesia, which is reportedly implementing a series of measures to combat air pollution, including cultivating peat bogs, where fires release ten times more dangerous gases and are difficult to extinguish. Civil society groups have increased pressure on Widodo by suing his environment and health ministers for violating their duties under the country’s environmental protection law.
Singapore’s Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan flew to Indonesia to meet with his counterpart in Jakarta to coordinate a response to the smoke problem. Indonesian Prime Minister Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, whose surname ironically means “burn” in Indonesian, has been accused of denying the cause of the smog, claiming that the smog originated from forest fires in Malaysia.
The haze caused by seasonal burns in Sumatra is straining friendly relations between the two countries and relations between Singapore and Indonesia.
Indonesian business interests, Singapore, which prides itself on its good air quality and green credentials, have blamed it for the cause of the smoke problem. Indonesia has refused to take the blame, claiming satellite images showed Malaysian and Singaporean oil palm companies owned more than 1,600 hotspots in Sumatra, where they were discovered. Jakarta, meanwhile, points the finger at the smog that results from clearing land to make way for plantations that provide raw materials for the city – the state’s refining industry.
As the haze has affected Jakarta, pollution has worsened to the point that it is now regularly ranked among the world’s worst-polluted cities and a critical public issue. In Singapore, smog is caused by forest fires, according to the Singapore Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).
This year was the worst since 2015 and contributes to global warming, exacerbated by the outbreak of forest fires worldwide. While dense smog shrouds the Kuala Lumpur skyline, air quality has deteriorated to “very unhealthy” levels. Almost 1500 schools have been closed, which, according to SEPA, affects more than one million pupils.
A growing number of Malaysians are suffering from health problems, and authorities say there has been a sharp increase in outpatient visits to state hospitals. The large amount of haze generated by the burning of palm oil plantations in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia is seen as a threat not only to the health of the region’s people, but also to the global economy.
Researchers looked at three factors – weather, peat and people – to assess the impact of the upcoming dry season on haze in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. They warned that without strong efforts by those involved, the haze situation could worsen and affect other places in the region.