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Saving Gaia Forum aims to raise environmental issues

By Dominique Loh, Channel NewsAsia
26 July 2007

SINGAPORE: The planet's environmental troubles have taken the spotlight in the media in recent weeks and MediaCorp's Channel NewsAsia is putting the issues in perspective with a new series called "Saving Gaia".

Besides airing the educational series, MediaCorp has also gone one step further by organising the Saving Gaia Breakfast Forum at the Shangri-la Hotel on Thursday to engage the business community in a meaningful dialogue on the benefits of going green.

In sharing the purpose of this eco-initiative, Woon Tai Ho, Managing Director of MediaCorp News, said: "This breakfast meeting is to focus on Gaia's biggest dilemma and that's business. We want to ask what it means to save Gaia for your company – from big decisions to personal ones... how do they hit the bottom-line? How do you turn every dollar green?

"The ideas that came out through the media were very good. We're going to use a lot of the ideas that were discussed and try to incorporate them into our programmes."

Due to rapid growth and consumerism, Singaporeans have, at one point, thrown away some 14,000 tonnes of garbage daily.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said only half of the waste gets recycled and serious environmental problems such as carbon dioxide emissions remain.

Chang Yeng Cheong, Deputy General Manager, VivoCity, said: "VivoCity, being the largest retail and lifestyle destination, has more than 3 million visitors a month, so the challenge has always been to give everyone a cool shopping environment. But we only switch on the air conditioning 45 minutes before the official opening hours."

NEA said it has made some progress with companies that are willing to try its energy audit scheme.

Lee Yuen Hee, CEO, National Environment Agency, said: "When we introduced the scheme, there were a lot of hesitation by companies on the costs they would have to incur by implementing these energy efficiency measures. But once they have completed the study, they realised that the energy savings they can achieve are very significant. Companies under the scheme have achieved annual savings of about S$15 million."

Through the forum, it is hoped that the message of convincing companies to be earth-friendly would come across loud and clear.

Howard Shaw, Executive Director, Singapore Environment Council, said: "Going green does not have to be a big investment, it does not have to be a great inconvenience to management. If the right steps are adopted from the start, the company will see returns eventually."

Experts say a company's green efforts may have to come from the top management, but in the long run, educating the young may be the key in changing old habits from an older generation.

- CNA/so

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