Ongoing efforts to enhance resilience to climate change

I refer to last Wednesday's letters by Mr Ng Ya Ken ("Singapore can lead by example") and Dr Teoh Ren Shang ("Ways we can walk the talk").

The Paris agreement is the first global pact on climate change with universal participation. Discussions will continue on the implementation details, including ways to track and report emissions reductions.

Singapore played a key role in facilitating discussions in Paris. This was possible because countries recognised our longstanding commitment and efforts to achieve green and sustainable growth.

We have shared our experiences with other countries to enhance global capability. Almost 11,000 officials from developing countries have been trained in climate change issues in Singapore.

Following public consultations early this year and prior to the Paris Conference, Singapore submitted a pledge to reduce our Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and stabilise our emissions around 2030.

This is ambitious, given our early actions to develop sustainably before climate change became a global concern and our limited scope for alternative energy.

Since the 1970s, we have managed car usage to reduce traffic congestion and emissions. Over 95 per cent of Singapore's electricity is generated from natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel. With other measures, Singapore has one of the lowest carbon intensities (carbon dioxide emitted per dollar of gross domestic product) in the world.

Singapore has limited alternatives to using fossil fuel for power generation. Even if all usable rooftops in Singapore were covered with solar panels, it could currently generate about 10 per cent of our total electricity needs. Nonetheless, we will continue to deploy solar energy where feasible, to meet our target of 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2020.

Improving energy efficiency is a key strategy. The Energy Conservation Act imposes energy management practices for large industrial energy users. By 2030, we aim for public transport to make up 75 per cent of peak-hour journeys and for 80 per cent of buildings to achieve Green Mark standards.

We are also taking measures to address climate change impacts such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events. These include raising minimum land reclamation levels, preserving our biodiversity, encouraging diversification of our food import sources, and working with local farms to increase productivity and resilience.

We will continue to consult stakeholders on ways to reduce emissions and enhance resilience to climate change. Everyone can play a part, including in simple ways such as "reduce, reuse and recycle", as Dr Teoh suggested.

Yuen Sai Kuan

Director (Corporate Affairs)

National Climate Change Secretariat

Prime Minister's Office

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Ongoing efforts to enhance resilience to climate change'. Print Edition | Subscribe