SINGAPORE has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol but will still work towards lowering carbon emission levels.
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said yesterday that while Singapore would not be subject to binding reduction targets in carbon dioxide emissions even if it ratified the protocol, it was committed to improving its carbon efficiency - a term used to describe how much carbon a country emits for every dollar of gross domestic product.
'As an export-oriented economy, a large fraction of our total energy (which results in CO2 emissions) is used to produce goods which are exported and not consumed by the local population,' said the spokesman.
He added that Singapore is not ruling out acceding to the Kyoto Protocol, and is studying the implications and timing of such an accession.
Singapore's carbon efficiency is better than that of developed countries like Canada and Australia, and it has plans to improve 1990 levels by 25 per cent in the next seven years.
Initiatives to achieve this include greater use of natural gas to replace oil-fired power plants for generating electricity, promoting energy audits to industry, and the use of public transport.
There are also plans to extend energy labelling for air-conditioners and refrigerators - which tell buyers how energy-efficient the products are - to other household appliances.
Still, environmentalists here said yesterday that they were 'disappointed' that Singapore was one of those countries which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
'The environmental, social and economic damage that climate change will inflict cannot be addressed reactively and will dwarf any potential economic losses brought on by the ratification of Kyoto,' said Mr Howard Shaw, the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council.
Nature Society president and Nominated Member of Parliament Geh Min suggested aggressive promotion of the use of energy-efficient air-conditioners and fuel-efficient and cleaner vehicles in the form of higher tax rebates, and even cycling as a substitute form of public transport.
Mr Shaw said: 'The area that presents a bigger challenge is within our homes and in nurturing a carbon-conscious society.'