Four in 10 more concerned about climate change after National Day Rally: Poll

The majority of the respondents, or about 65 per cent, said that their main takeaway from PM Lee's remarks on climate change was Singapore's vulnerability to sea-level rise.
The majority of the respondents, or about 65 per cent, said that their main takeaway from PM Lee's remarks on climate change was Singapore's vulnerability to sea-level rise.PHOTO: ST FILE

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on climate change in his National Day Rally (NDR) speech on Sunday struck a chord with many Singaporeans.

About four in 10 people said they were more concerned about the issue after watching this year's NDR, a poll showed.

On Sunday, PM Lee estimated that about $100 billion would be needed for Singapore to protect itself from rising sea levels in the upcoming decades, and he outlined some possible measures that Singapore could adopt to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The Straits Times and market research firm Milieu Insight polled 1,000 people online for their response to the speech.

More than two-thirds, or 670, said they watched or read it, and 41 per cent of those said they were now more concerned about climate change than before. The majority, or 57 per cent, said that they were just as concerned as they were before the speech.

The Straits Times also interviewed 100 people who watched the speech or read PM Lee's remarks for their response to his dire warnings about the future.

Mr Ow Wenxuan, 26, who is self-employed, told The Straits Times that the issue was worrying.

 
 
 
 

"It is really sad to see that climate change might one day result in Singapore's coastline being washed away, if we do nothing else to stop it," he said.

"I live in one of the areas that might soon sink beneath the ocean's surface, so it struck me that concerted efforts would need to be taken to make Singapore more climate-change ready," he added.

Others felt that raising the alarm was long overdue.

Mr Ong Yifan, 32, said it was surprising that climate change as an issue was not highlighted earlier.

"But it is a good thing that we try to save our planet now and not later, and investments in this area are welcome," said the administrative assistant.

Post-graduate student Saanjh Gupta, 21, said: "It is good to see the specific realities of climate change discussed with frankness on such a public platform.

"That being said, I would have liked to hear more about the cultural shifts and lifestyle changes that we may need to adopt, such as with regard to our extensive use of air-conditioning and reliance on air-flown imported produce."

Some of those interviewed said that they would take some steps to make their lifestyle more climate-friendly.

Sales executive Soh Zimin, 29, said: "I made changes to my lifestyle, such as taking my own bottles to work instead of using disposable cups and using an eco-friendly bag in place of plastic bags."

The majority of the respondents, or about 65 per cent, said that their main takeaway from PM Lee's remarks on climate change was Singapore's vulnerability to sea-level rise.

Around 41 per cent said their main takeaway was that battling climate change was a big investment.

Ms Elise Khaw, 28, said that added focus on the issue was promising, and hoped that the $100 billion could be "invested in the right place, for the best effect".

 
 
 

"More needs to be done in Singapore to encourage people to recycle or reduce their reliance on plastic bags," the private tutor added.

Ms Shuqi Gurala, 36, felt that the Government should take the lead in raising awareness among the public of environmentally friendly practices. "From a young age, we have been taught in school to reduce, reuse and recycle, but we have never really been taught how to incorporate those habits into our lives," said the project manager.

She added that even though recycling bins were placed in housing estates, many Singaporeans still do not know how they should sort or handle recyclable items such as washing and drying plastic bottles before putting them into such bins.

"Perhaps PM's NDR speech will help those of us who are already environmentally conscious to convince sceptics that climate change is real and happening," said Ms Gurala.

• Additional reporting by Jacklin Kwan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Four in 10 more concerned about climate change after Rally: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe