Preventive steps against climate impact key for S'pore: SM Teo

Above: Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean speaking at a dialogue moderated by Strategic Moves chief executive Viswa Sadasivan at the Shell Powering Progress Together Forum yesterday.
Above: Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean speaking at a dialogue moderated by Strategic Moves chief executive Viswa Sadasivan at the Shell Powering Progress Together Forum yesterday.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

It has taken steps to go low carbon and raise levels of reclaimed land, and is looking at further measures

As a small, low-lying island state, Singapore is studying what further steps to take to guard against the impact of climate change, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

Mr Teo drew attention to the Republic's efforts in going low carbon and managing rising sea levels in a speech at the sixth Asian edition of the Shell Powering Progress Together Forum.

Singapore raised the minimum level for newly reclaimed land by 1m in 2011, a move that preceded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) most recent report in 2014 by three years.

The report projected that global sea levels - relative to Singapore's sea levels from 1986 to 2005 - will rise 1m by 2100 if the world's current carbon emission trajectory remains unchanged.

But sea waters could potentially rise even further, Mr Teo noted, as the report did not factor in the impact from the possible collapse of melting Antarctic ice shelves.

"We are currently studying what further measures we need to take, such as reclamation, sea walls or pumping stations, to better protect our coastal areas," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security. "By planning early, we can phase in the necessary measures so that the cost can be spread out over many years."

For example, the new mega-port at Tuas Terminal and Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built 1m and 1.5m above the minimum level required, respectively.

The focus of this year's forum was on sustainable energy use in future cities. At the forum, Shell launched its first global City Solutions Living Lab, to be located here.

A multi-disciplinary team will develop technological solutions aimed at helping cities move people and goods with lower emissions and switch to cleaner energy options, while working together with the city authorities.

BUSINESS MODELS MUST CHANGE

Businesses need to transform their business models for a world that demands corporate climate responsibility, and take advantage of the opportunities that this offers.

SENIOR MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN

 
 
 

The team currently has 10 members and is expected to grow further as it gets into gear.

Shell said it chose to base the lab in Singapore due to the city-state's active push for energy transition and sustainability, its pro-business environment and Shell's long-standing presence here going back to 1891.

The company has worked with port operator PSA Singapore to identify opportunities for carbon reduction at the Pasir Panjang Terminal and future Tuas Port through cleaner fuel options.

It also signed a partnership with the Energy Market Authority in May to set up an incubator programme to nurture promising local energy start-ups.

Shell has worked on energy sustainability solutions in Chennai in India and Perth in Australia as well. The lab offers Shell the capability to collaborate with more cities around the world.

When asked by the media about how big oil companies like Shell continue to be criticised for worsening climate change through the use of fossil fuels, Shell's City Solutions general manager Emily Tan said given the increasing global energy demand, it was important to strike a balance with renewable energy.

She said: "It is companies like Shell that can make a difference because we recognise the importance of transiting to renewable energy."

Mr Teo said Singapore's commitment to a green environment dates back to the 1960s, and going low carbon is an extension of that.

Singapore introduced a carbon tax earlier this year and is investing in infrastructure for more electric vehicles to reduce the nation's carbon footprint.

The tax, currently set at $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions in carbon dioxide equivalent, will be reviewed in 2023 with a view to increasing it to between $10 and $15 by 2030.

Mr Teo added that Singapore is happy to work with businesses like Shell which have adopted significant measures to reduce their carbon footprint.

"Businesses need to transform their business models for a world that demands corporate climate responsibility, and take advantage of the opportunities that this offers," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Preventive steps against climate impact key for S'pore: SM Teo'. Print Edition | Subscribe