Greater certainty for Singapore on global commitment: Masagos

The Singapore team was all smiles after the deal. Among them are (from left) Mr Albert Chua, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR); Mr Cheah Sin Liang, deputy director of international policy at the Nationa
The Singapore team was all smiles after the deal. Among them are (from left) Mr Albert Chua, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR); Mr Cheah Sin Liang, deputy director of international policy at the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS); Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli; NCCS’ director of strategic issues Benedict Chia; and Singapore’s chief climate change negotiator Joseph Teo from MEWR. ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

KATOWICE (Poland) • With almost 200 nations agreeing to adopt a worldwide action plan to tackle global warming, Singapore will have greater certainty about the world’s commitment to deal with climate change, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Saturday night.

Asked what it means for Singapore after the action plan, or the Katowice Rulebook, was adopted following a marathon two-week conference, Mr Masagos said: "There is certainty that all countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement will now actually start to report on their climate pledges, and there is a clear rule for how that will be done, with no more suspicion or ambiguity about what it means."

Under the plan, countries are given guidance on how to keep global warming well below 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, which was set out in the Paris Agreement drawn up three years ago, and to aim for 1.5 deg C, if possible.

The Paris pact had outlined a broad architecture in which all nations pledge to do their part to combat global warming based on their own national plans.

The Katowice Rulebook provides greater clarity on how countries can take steps to meet these national climate pledges, and includes a new Enhanced Transparency Framework, which would subject all parties to the same reporting, measurement and verification standards. Developing countries will get the necessary support to do so, in terms of finance and capacity-building, for example.

Such a framework will provide the basis for countries to ratchet up their pledges every five years.

"Come 2050, there is the expectation that more ambitious commitments need to be made by everybody, and this spirit is captured well in the rules," said Mr Masagos.

"Not only must we be delivering on our commitment, (but) we are now also on the path to be more ambitious, to avoid what the IPCC report has cautioned us against."

 
 
 

He was referring to an October report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that laid out the impact of a 2 deg C warming scenario instead of a 1.5 deg C one.

The report found that the 0.5 deg C increase would significantly impact a country like Singapore, in terms of sea level rise and food security, among others.

Mr Masagos added in a Facebook post that the adoption of the rulebook was especially memorable for Singapore, which is wrapping up its Year of Climate Action. But he said climate action is not just a year-long affair, adding: "We are already seeing more flash floods in Singapore as the climate has changed.

"They will be even more severe and frequent when the effects of climate change are at their ugliest. We must continue to press on to safeguard our country and planet for future generations."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Greater certainty for S’pore on global commitment: Masagos'. Print Edition | Subscribe