SINGAPORE - While far from the Arctic, Singapore remains committed to sustainable development in the region and recognises that complex demands have to be balanced to meet this end, said Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Mr Tan was speaking at the 9th Arctic Frontiers conference on Monday attended by some 877 participants from 37 countries.
He said it is clear that the Arctic is the "canary in the mine" in terms of climate change and noted that it is warming at more than double the rate as compared to other parts of the world.
"The decline in the population of polar bears has rightly captured the world's attention, but it is just the tip of the iceberg," he said.
"The melting and contraction of the ice in the Arctic will have global impact. And Singapore, although we are far from the Arctic, will not be spared from it."
Mr Tan said the republic is aware that whatever happens in each region will have a profound impact on the others, and has has been taking steps to address climate change at home and meet international commitments to fighting its effects.
He said Singapore has ongoing measures to reduce carbon emissions to 7 to 11 per cent below its business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2020, and that it will further reduce emissions to 16 per cent below its BAU level in the same time period if there is a legally binding global agreement on climate change.
He added that Singapore is also exploring alternative energy sources and is part of the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) efforts to limit and reduce CO2 emissions from international shipping.
"Through our collective efforts to address climate change and protect the environment, I am confident that the generations to come will still be able to see the beautiful Arctic we have had the chance of seeing today," he said.
Mr Tan also called on Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Børge Brende, with whom he exchanged of views on regional developments and met United States Special Representative for the Arctic, Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., to discuss possible areas of cooperation between Singapore and the United States during the latter's Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2015 to 2017.