UN climate change talks

Singapore urges show of unity in advancing global action

PHOTO: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES

COP24 a test to show multilateralism can be effective in fighting climate change: Masagos

Singapore has called for a strong and unequivocal signal to be sent by COP24, the ongoing United Nations (UN) climate talks in Poland, that the world is united against climate change.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, yesterday told delegates at the meeting in Katowice: "At a time when multilateralism is being challenged, COP24 will be a key test of the multilateral system to deliver an effective response to the climate change challenge. COP24 must send a strong and unequivocal signal that the world is united in advancing global climate action."

To this end, a credible, durable and pragmatic set of rules - the Katowice Rulebook - should be developed to guide countries on how their climate targets can be reached, Mr Masagos said, urging negotiators to "stay faithful to the principles and political balance under the Paris Agreement".

The talks aim to agree on a rulebook that will let the historic Paris Agreement, drawn up at COP21 in 2015, to go into force by 2020.

Nations set a three-year deadline to agree on the complex set of rules. But a few sticking points - or "crunchy points", as Mr Michal Kurtyka, the Polish president for COP24, has referred to them - have hampered progress.

One of them is the issue of differentiation - whether obligations between developed and developing countries should be different owing to varying capabilities.

In his speech, Mr Masagos emphasised that the outcome of the talks had to drive all countries to urgently undertake climate action.

 
 
 
 
 

The climate talks are taking place against a backdrop of weather disasters and scientific reports that underline the urgency to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.Mr Masagos said: "Singapore is one low-lying island state that is vulnerable to sea-level rise and severe floods from intense storms. Clearly, we need urgent, collective and coordinated efforts by all."

Singapore is doing its part, despite contributing just 0.11 per cent of global emissions, he added.

Regionally, it convened a number of meetings with Asean members to discuss climate change and is also supporting the South-east Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility to address the growing natural catastrophe protection gap in the region.

At home, Singapore is promoting energy efficiency and will roll out a carbon tax next year to force large emitters to pollute less, Mr Masagos said.

It has also made "significant and costly infrastructure investments" to protect the country from the effects of climate change, such as raising the height of coastal roads and new buildings, and enhancing its drainage and flood managements systems.

He stressed Singapore's position, which is to advocate for a multilateral, rules-based approach to addressing climate change.

"The Paris Agreement was a hard-fought agreement forged through the unity of purpose of all parties. We must leave Katowice with a credible, durable and pragmatic rule book that enables all to implement the Paris Agreement in good faith," Mr Masagos said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore urges show of unity in advancing global action'. Print Edition | Subscribe