Climate change: Singapore can lead by example

The Government has invested heavily in environmental infrastructure, having recognised the need for a clean environment as a benchmark of development.

In particular, our "water story" has won numerous accolades internationally.

It is remarkable how we have managed to attain self-sufficiency in water with the addition of two new sources of water: Newater and desalinated water.

Such innovations have put us in the international spotlight for water management issues.

We won the coveted Stockholm Industry Water Award in 2007 for being the first country to close the water loop.

However, the hardware must be complemented with "software".

The 3Ps - the people, the public sector and the private sector - which focus on fostering community action in people and the private sector with collaboration from the public sector are crucial in mitigating environmental problems.

For example, through various initiatives, our water consumption per capita has declined over the years, thus, showing the roles that education and empowerment play.

Going forward, the same level of concern towards our environment must be manifested through a long-term and pragmatic approach.

We can also improve in certain aspects such as food wastage and our carbon emissions.

There is incontrovertible evidence of climate change due to human activities. The recent heatwaves in Europe and Pakistan are the consequences of rising global temperatures.

Singapore, a low-lying island, is most at risk from flooding because of a rise in sea levels.

Earlier this year, it was reported that South-east Asia, although seemingly "small", can play a vital role in mitigating climate change ("S-E Asia has central role in global climate fight"; March 2).

Singapore is the most developed of the South-east Asian countries and should walk the talk by demonstrating its commitment towards cutting emissions.

Singapore is well aware of the dangers of climate change, having set up the National Climate Change Secretariat.

In this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Singapore could showcase its commitment by pledging action in specific areas.

Copenhagen is set to become the world's first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. We need not be so ambitious. However, we must recognise that sustainable development is an issue that is commensurate with quality of life.

Aaron Low Chin Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'Climate change: Singapore can lead by example'. Print Edition | Subscribe