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Jakarta Post

Singapore passes trans-boundary haze act

  • The Jakarta Post

Posted: Thu, August 7 2014 | 03:50 am

The Singaporean Parliament has passed the 2014 Trans-boundary Haze Pollution Act , which will enable regulators to sue individuals or companies in neighboring countries that cause severe air pollution in Singapore through slash-and-burn agricultural practices. 

The act was first proposed in 2013 after a huge rise in the number of forest fires on the neighboring Indonesian province of Riau spread smoke to Singapore, adding to the city-state'€™s pollution levels.   

Global Director of Forestry Programs at the World Resources Institute ( WRI ), Nigel Sizer, said  the trans-boundary haze pollution law signaled a new method in doing business for companies and governments that wished to reduce forest and peatland fires. 

'€œAny companies that are caught illegally burning the forests will be dragged to a Singaporean court and their reputations will suffer along with it, as customers, banks and insurers will avoid doing business with these companies,'€ Sizer explained on Tuesday as quoted by Kontan.co.id.   

According to Sizer, pinpointing the cause of fires and the resulting haze in Southeast Asia was a very complex problem. In the past few decades, fires have initially been started to clear land for agricultural expansion into forests and peatland areas. 

'€œThe highest concentration of fires originated from the Indonesian province of Riau in the past two years. It has caused health hazards, environmental destruction, not to mention economic damage [to Singapore],'€ he added.

Sizer noted further that the new law was a positive measure for companies and governments to curb the problem of forest fires, and that it highlighted the serious consequences that would be faced by those who violated the law. ( dyl )

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