Singapore’s dirty accolade: Asia-Pacific’s biggest carbon footprint

Singapore’s dirty accolade: Asia-Pacific’s biggest carbon footprint

The city-state might be tiny, but its consumption habits are massive, says the World Wildlife Fund
Singapore's rep as a green, clean city has taken a hit with the WWF's claims that it has Asia's biggest carbon footprint. Heavy construction, a reliance on fossil fuels and a high GDP are to blame.

When most travelers think of Singapore, glittering new casinos, delicious hawker food, pricey luxury hotels, sanitized streets and a world-renowned airport spring to mind. 

Well, now they can add “giant carbon footprint” to that list.

According to media reports citing the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Singapore had the largest carbon footprint per head in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010. 

A hot and heavy corporate sector fuelling the city-state’s construction industry –- including all those shiny new "eco-friendly" resorts and hotels -- is to blame for the dubious honor. That, and residents' excessive consumption habits.

Quoted by numerous media, WWF president Yolanda Kakabadse said Singapore “is a society that maybe is one of the best examples of what we should not do. 

"Every member of the population in relation to the size of the country is consuming a lot in food, in energy.”

But what about China?

The WWF’s findings wouldn't come as such a surprise if China or India was fingered as Asia's biggest polluter.

After all, Singapore's giant carbon footprint is in stark contrast to the long-held view of the city as one of the world's cleanest, a nation whose National Environment Agency sends plainclothes officers into the streets to nab litterbugs.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s environmental services companies are renowned for their technical expertise in areas like water technology, waste and wastewater treatment, clean air, consulting and engineering.

The city's Environment Council has even launched a search for the best environmental journalists in Asia. 

China, on the other hand, often catches heat for its dismal environmental practices -- though Beijing says it's working on improving things. But the WWF says China's per-capita carbon footprint is actually far below Singapore’s and falls into the Asia-Pacific average. This of course is due China’s massive population. 

No other details on Asia's biggest offenders have been released. The findings will appear in the WWF's Asia Footprint Report, set to be released in June.