Singapore will work with its South-east Asian neighbours on strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change when it takes on the role of Asean chairman next year, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Thursday (Nov 16) at a United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.
There will be two areas of focus for this regional cooperation: reducing energy intensity, and increasing the use of renewable energy.
Mr Masagos said Singapore will work with its neighbours to advance the Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025.
Among other things, the plan seeks to reduce energy intensity in the Asean region by 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. It also aims to increase the component of renewable energy in the Asean energy mix to 23 per cent by 2025.
The region's commitment to tackling climate change comes against a backdrop of extreme weather events. For example, the year 2016 was the warmest year on record, and the third consecutive year that record temperatures have been set.
Multiple natural disasters also hit the world, from drought in Africa, torrential floods in South Asia, as well as hurricanes and cyclones that pounded the Caribbean, North-east Asia, the Pacific and North America.
"Our hearts go out to the families affected and we hope that these areas will return to normalcy soon. The global community needs to work together, urgently and resolutely to stem the warming trend," Mr Masagos said when delivering Singapore's national statement to the international audience.
For its part, Singapore has pledged under the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels, come 2030. Emissions intensity is the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to achieve each dollar of gross domestic product.
It has also pledged to stop any increase to its greenhouse gas emissions by around 2030.
Singapore has implemented a slew of strategies to achieve these targets. This includes enhancements made this year to its Energy Conservation Act, which aims to get large polluters to be more energy efficient, and plans to implement a carbon tax from 2019, said Mr Masagos.
The Republic has also pumped money into research for innovations that can help the island state develop sustainably. It is banking on solar power to reduce its reliance on natural gas, and has invested in ways to better harness energy from the sun, by piloting floating solar systems, for example.
But Singapore wants to go one step further next year, by driving the climate change message not just among industries, but citizens too. To do this, Singapore will designate 2018 as the Year of Climate Action.
"We want to do more to instil awareness of climate change amongst our citizens and inspire them to act in partnership," said Mr Masagos.
At the Bonn conference on Thursday, 20 countries and two US states joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030. Since signing the Paris Agreement which aims to wean the world off fossil fuels, several countries have made national plans to phase out coal from their power supply mix.