Singapore reaffirms commitment to Paris climate agreement after US pulls out of pact

Singapore has pledged to, by 2030, reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from levels in 2005 .
Singapore has pledged to, by 2030, reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from levels in 2005 . ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - In the wake of the United States announcing its intent to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Singapore reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement and pledge on emissions.

Singapore's National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) said in a statement on Friday (June 1) that as a low-lying, island city-state, the country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and it has a "deep interest" in global efforts to combat potential disruptions to natural ecosystems and human societies.

"As a small country, we have also staunchly supported the rules-based multilateral system, and upheld the critical role of diplomacy in solving problems on the global commons," the secretariat added.

On Thursday (June 1), US President Donald Trump announced that the country was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The US is the world's second-biggest carbon emitter.

Singapore has pledged to, by 2030, reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from levels in 2005, as well as stabilise its emissions and have them peak around 2030. The country is also implementing a carbon tax from 2019.

In response to the US' intent to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post on Friday that it was "a great pity".

He noted that China and the US "worked so well to help achieve global consensus on climate change - a real and present danger for our collective future".

In 2007, China overtook the US to become the biggest greenhouse gas emitter globally.

The National Climate Change Secretariat said on Friday that Singapore will continue contributing to the global effort to address climate change.

"We believe that a global approach towards dealing with climate change is the best chance the international community has at effectively addressing its effects," the secretariat said.

"We stand ready to work with all Parties and stakeholders to address this urgent challenge together."

Scientists and climate change advocates in Singapore told The Straits Times that the US' move to withdraw from the agreement at the national level was disappointing. However, its withdrawal would not derail the world's ambition to keep global warming to an internationally agreed target of 2 deg C this century.

"Emissions from the US accounted for about 15 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions last year. It's the actions of countries contributing the remaining 85 per cent - with major emitters being China, India, Australia, the United Kingdom and the European nations - that matter more over the next four years if the 2 deg C target is to be kept," said climate scientist Winston Chow from the National University of Singapore's geography department.

He added that a number of US-based businesses such as Apple and Facebook, cities such as Pittsburgh, as well as states like New York and California, have firmly stood against Mr Trump's "incredibly short-sighted" decision, due to a combination of economic and pragmatic reasons arising from a sound understanding of climate science".

Mr Wilson Ang, executive director from Global Compact Network Singapore - an organisation which raises the level of awareness and adoption of corporate social responsibility among businesses - said climate change is beyond just the environment.

"It is about livelihoods of people on this planet, their quality of life, and the way businesses operate," he said.

"Fortunately, businesses in Singapore remain committed. This includes many of the US businesses that have regional work based in Singapore that reaffirmed their commitment to tackle the impact of climate change. This means that businesses between the two countries will proceed as normal."