Overwhelming support makes Singapore's Year of Climate Action a success: Masagos Zulkifli

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the appreciation lunch to thank partners for Singapore’s Year of Climate Action, held by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources on Nov 28, 2018. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Art competitions, apps to track carbon footprints, and outreach programmes to encourage recycling were all part of the efforts made for Singapore's Year of Climate Action.

The campaign to rally Singaporeans together to work towards a sustainable Singapore saw about 800 climate action-related events initiated and organised here.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli acknowledged these collective efforts on climate action on Wednesday (Nov 28) at the Year of Climate Action Appreciation Lunch, held at Orchard Hotel.

He said these efforts were part of the "overwhelming support from the ground", with green initiatives championed by individuals, schools, businesses, non-profit organisations as well as organisations in the public and private sector.

Mr Masagos, calling the campaign a success, also referred to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources-sponsored Climate Action SG Pledge, which has garnered more than 300,000 signatures so far.

The pledge was launched in January 2018, for individuals and organisations to make a public commitment to climate action.

Among the many private-sector businesses which took part in the Year of Climate Action was PacificLight, a Singapore-based power generator and electricity retailer.

The company has run the Create8 Sustainability competitions since 2016, with art, essay and video competitions reaching out to primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, and institutes of higher learning.

Ms Clare Savereux, senior manager at PacificLight, said both corporate and community initiatives are important, adding that competitions like Create8 aimed to serve as a catalyst for impact and change.

This year's competitions attracted 148 entries.

"Everyone can play a part to combat climate change," said Ms Mrunal Makarand Kulkarni, 13, a Temasek Secondary School student and one of the winners of this year's essay competition.

"If you make an effort, the Earth will thank you - and if you don't, the day will come when everything comes back to us," she said.

Non-profit organisations also did their bit for the environment. Among them was Tzu Chi Foundation, whose chief executive officer Low Swee Seh spearheaded its efforts. Almost 5,000 people have visited the foundation's eco-awareness centre in Woodlands, which opened in September 2018. It educates the public on recycling through photographic displays.

"We have a mission to protect Mother Earth, which we have been doing for over 25 years now," said Mr Low.

He added that the foundation was working with community development centres, to encourage recycling every second Sunday of the month at HDB void decks islandwide.

Some initiatives among the others highlighted at the event were Ricoh Asia Pacific's planting of 315 tree saplings at Sentosa Fort Siloso. Many of these trees are critically endangered.

Also significant was Fuhua Primary School's annual National Photography Competition, themed Sustainable Singapore this year, with students being encouraged to raise awareness of environmental conservation through photography.

These initiatives are more essential now, in light of the findings of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Mr Masagos said the report was a "sobering reminder of the potentially devastating effects of climate change".

The minister mentioned various efforts already in place to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the Government's implementation of a carbon pricing act - which will come into force on Jan 1, 2019 - among others.

He also spoke of Singapore's efforts as the chair of Asean to convene the Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (Samca) and Expanded-Samca, to galvanise regional climate action.

Mr Masagos said, however, that it appeared there is only latent awareness among Singaporeans that climate change leads to higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions, such as Singapore's spell of drought in 2015.

"It is important to raise national awareness and the urgency to act - and act together," he said.

"My vision is for Singapore to be an urban mine, where resources have many life cycles," Mr Masagos said.

"Taking climate action cannot be just a year-long affair in 2018."

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