Climate change campaign on the cards next year

Minister Masagos Zulkifli delivered the National Statement of Singapore at COP23 and announced the designation of 2018 as the Year of Climate Action.
Minister Masagos Zulkifli delivered the National Statement of Singapore at COP23 and announced the designation of 2018 as the Year of Climate Action.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES

Plans include outreach efforts to raise public awareness, and rallying groups to the cause

Singapore will ramp up its efforts to tackle climate change next year to raise awareness among people of the urgent need to reduce waste and do their part for the planet.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources told The Sunday Times it will conduct outreach efforts, including among schools and the wider community, to "bring into the national consciousness the impacts of climate change and the urgency of reducing our carbon footprint to build a sustainable future for generations to come".

"We will also be working closely with the community, businesses, schools and non-government organisations to rally them to this cause," a ministry spokesman said.

At a climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, last week, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli announced that Singapore would designate 2018 a Year of Climate Action.

Raising awareness about climate change among people will complement other strategies, which include enhancements to the Energy Conservation Act to get large polluters to be more energy efficient, and plans to implement a carbon tax from 2019, Mr Masagos said.

Singapore is a small island city-state that is vulnerable to climate change and designating 2018 a Year of Climate Action will help to focus minds on the issue, said environmental activists interviewed.

Climate change refers to the human-induced warming of the Earth, caused by deforestation and the excessive consumption of resources that result in the production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The rate of warming over Singapore from 1951 to 2012 was 0.26 deg C per decade, more than double the global average over the same period. The daily mean temperature is projected to rise by up to 4.6 deg C towards the end of the century, and the mean sea level is estimated to rise by up to 1m by 2100.


Singapore Environment Council executive director Jen Teo said "climate change is arguably the most important issue of our time", and that the council will work closely with the ministry. She said campaigns could include "experiential learning", like letting people appreciate the link between their consumption patterns and the impact of rising temperatures and extreme weather.

This includes the ability to track and measure their personal carbon footprint so they can actively work towards reducing it, she added.

The amount of waste Singapore generates has gone up - from 5.02 million tonnes in 2005 to 7.67 million tonnes in 2015.

Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, co-founder of Singapore Youth for Climate Action, said campaigns could be aligned with global events, such as 2018 being declared the third International Year of the Reef.

Warming sea surface temperatures caused Singapore's corals to suffer from the longest bleaching incident on record last year.

Miss Pamela Low, also from Singapore Youth for Climate Action, said campaigns should relate to the daily lives of Singaporeans, and allow them to take action.

"Content has to be bottom-up for people to feel empowered that they can make a difference to climate change," she said. "It starts with bringing our own containers for takeaways. It starts with sorting your trash, turning your air-con (temperature) up a few degrees."

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity - greenhouse gases emitted towards a dollar of gross domestic product - by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, come 2030. Singapore has also pledged to stop any increase to its greenhouse gas emissions by around 2030.

"The Government alone cannot tackle climate change," the ministry spokesman said. "Every positive action counts, and can help to reduce our carbon footprint."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'Climate change campaign on the cards next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe