More concrete to set own climate change targets

Climate change has always been a pressing issue in Singapore.

It is heartening to note that more people have been stepping up to do their part for the environment (Over 303,300 people, groups make climate action pledge; Oct 25).

However, it is important for us to walk the talk.

After signing the pledge, it is crucial that we consciously make an effort to adopt these practices and align our lifestyles with our promises.

Pledges may be difficult to fulfil because they lack specific actions that individuals can take.

In the climate action pledge launched by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, there were some vague options such as "recycle right" and "conserve water" provided.

Unlike other options like "Set air-conditioner at 25 deg C", those statements lacked a clear benchmark. How much water should we be conserving, and what exactly does recycling "right" mean?

I propose that, for a change, individuals could be asked to set a target for themselves. For instance, the pledge could ask for our target reduction in water consumption by the end of this year.

Allowing us to set our own personal targets for a specified, short-term time frame would be more effective, as we would have more concrete and manageable goals to work towards.

The option for the air-conditioner temperature, while specific, could be modified to "25 deg C and above", to remind individuals to strive for higher conservation goals beyond their agreements.

People might not be committing to their goals also because they could be unaware of how to work towards them. The Government and business leaders need to set good examples for us to emulate.

A commendable example would be MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng's call for the reduction in plastic used in the National Day Parade. This is a testament to the Government's efforts in reducing plastic use.

It reinforces the severity of the plastic issue in Singapore, thus driving home the need for us to be more environmentally conscious.

Agencies can also play their part by replacing office lights with ones operated with motion detectors or by reducing subsidies for claimable taxi fares to encourage workers to take public transport.

It is encouraging that so many Singaporeans today are enthusiastic about environmental conservation pledges. However, it is important that these pledges go beyond affirming our successes, and serve as reminders for us to be more mindful in our actions.

Charlene Chia Cui Ting (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2018, with the headline 'More concrete to set own climate change targets'. Print Edition | Subscribe