Govt looking at long-term proposals to prepare for and protect against rising sea levels: PM Lee

(From left) Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Clean & Green Singapore launch ceremony on Nov 3, 2018. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasised the threat of climate change and the steps Singapore has to take in order to combat this threat at the Clean and Green Singapore launch ceremony at Wisma Geylang Serai, on Nov 3, 2018. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The threat of climate change to Singapore and the world has become increasingly serious and Singapore must take steps to shore up its defences.

This means having more than just clean waters and lush greenery, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Nov 3).

Pointing out that Singapore is already feeling the effects of global warming with the Republic recording its hottest year and second driest year over the past few years, he noted that the threat posed by rising sea levels is of particular concern.

"Many South-east Asian countries, including Singapore, are also vulnerable to rising sea levels because of our long coastlines and low-lying areas," said PM Lee, adding that government agencies were studying this carefully.

Mr Lee was speaking at a ceremony to mark the launch of the Clean and Green Singapore carnival in Wisma Geylang Serai .

"In due course, we will come up with long-term proposals to adequately prepare and protect ourselves," he said.

Mr Lee highlighted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published last month by the United Nations (UN) that warned that world temperatures could rise by 1.5 deg C from pre-industrial levels in the next 12 years, if global warming continues at its current pace.

This in turn would impact sea levels.

In stressing the need to guard against the long-term threats of climate change, PM Lee said: "We must consider the far reaching implications of climate change for our city, our economy and our people."

For example, higher temperatures in this region could spread tropical diseases like dengue fever, affect agricultural crops, and hurt Singapore's economy.

The Government has already has taken steps to protect Singapore against the adverse effects of climate change and rising sea levels, he said.

Low-lying roads near coastal areas, including those in East Coast, Katong, Geylang and Bedok, have been raised and the Stamford Detention Tank and the Stamford Diversion Canal were built to prevent flooding in areas such as Orchard Road.

The tank can store up to 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of stormwater to be discharged into the Singapore River via the diversion canal.

The future Changi Airport Terminal 5 will also be built on a higher platform than the existing terminals to allow for rising sea levels, he said.

Singapore has also invested heavily in infrastructure as a means to manage its water supply. These include building the Marina Barrage, desalination and Newater plants to expand and diversify Singapore's water supply.

"We priced water correctly, to make Singaporeans conscious of how precious water is, and therefore value every drop," said PM Lee.

Research projects and the testing of new technologies are also underway at 10 living laboratories across Singapore such as the CleanTech Park. Successful projects from these labs can be scaled up and applied nationwide, he added.

Singapore also launched the Climate Action Plan in 2016, which outlines some of the measures being taken to mitigate climate change, including a carbon tax that will come into effect next year.

Besides infrastructure and policies, PM Lee said, mindsets and lifestyles also need to be changed.

While opting for public transport or energy saving appliances may not seem significant to the individual, it would have a cumulative effect if everyone adopts it.

"But just like our 'Save Water' campaign where every drop counts, every climate action counts," said PM Lee.

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