S'pore joins others in reaffirming commitment to Paris Agreement

Secretariat says global approach offers best chance to deal with climate change effects

Singapore has joined a raft of countries in reaffirming its commitment to the Paris climate deal, even as the United States announced that it was pulling out.

Yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan described President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday as a "great pity".

"China and the USA worked so well to help achieve global consensus on climate change - a real and present danger for our collective future," he wrote on Facebook.

Separately, Singapore's National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) said: "Singapore reaffirms our commitment to the Paris Agreement and our Paris pledge."

Under the Paris deal which Singapore signed last April, the Republic pledged to reduce its emissions intensity, which is the ratio of carbon emissions to each dollar of the gross domestic product, by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030.

It also aims to stabilise emis- sions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

A key measure to fulfilling these aims is to improve energy efficiency across all sectors, including power generation, buildings, transport, households, waste and water.

In April, Parliament amended the Energy Conservation Act to ensure that large polluters step up green efforts or face higher penalties.

Companies have to adopt a structured measurement and reporting system for their greenhouse gas emissions - a move that will pave the way for the carbon tax scheme that the Government plans to impose in 2019.

The NCCS said that as a low- lying island, Singapore is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As such, it has a deep interest in global efforts to address potential disruptions to ecosystems, both natural and manmade.

"As a small country, we have also staunchly supported the rules- based multilateral system, and upheld the critical role of diplomacy in solving problems on the global commons," NCCS said.

"We believe that a global approach towards dealing with climate change is the best chance the international community has at effectively addressing its effects."

Scientists and climate change advocates here said that the US move to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was disappointing, but would not derail global efforts.

Climate scientist Winston Chow of the National University of Singapore's geography department said: "Emissions from the US accounted for about 15 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions last year.

"It is the actions of countries contributing the remaining 85 per cent - with major emitters being China, India, Australia, the United Kingdom and the European nations - that matter more over the next four years if the 2 deg C target is to be kept."

Under the Paris deal, countries are committed to keeping global warming to below 2 deg C this century, to ward off the effects of catastrophic climate change.

Assistant Professor Chow added that a number of US- based businesses, such as Apple and Facebook, as well as cities such as Pittsburgh, and states like New York and California, have stood up against Mr Trump's decision.

Mr Wilson Ang, executive director of Global Compact Network Singapore - an organisation which raises the level of awareness and adoption of corporate social responsibility among businesses - said climate change affects more than just the environment.

"It is about the livelihoods of people on this planet, their quality of life and the way businesses operate," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore joins others in reaffirming commitment to Paris Agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe