Excerpt of speech on climate change by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Committee of Supply Debate, 12 April 2016
EXCERPT OF SPEECH ON CLIMATE CHANGE BY MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, AT THE COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE, 12 APRIL 2016
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Mr Masagos Zulkifli spoke about climate change during the 2016 Committee of Supply Debate. The excerpt is below.
For the full speech, please go to http://www.mewr.gov.sg/news/speech-by-mr-masagos-zulkifli--minister-for-the-environment-and-water-resources-at-mewr-cos-2016.
C. Climate Change
This is a good juncture to move on to climate change, which Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Louis Ng, and Ms Cheng Li Hui have asked about.
Indeed, while our pioneers were concerned with the environment impact of urbanisation and dense population to health and hygiene, we, are now faced with the impact of climate change. Climate change will have far-reaching implications on us and future generations. As an island state we are most vulnerable. Our delegation therefore worked hard to broker consensus on the Paris Agreement so that all countries will take concrete action for it to be effective. Although Singapore only contributes 0.11 per cent of global emissions, we are no less serious and have an ambitious target to reduce Emissions Intensity.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, under the leadership of DPM Teo, is formulating our national response to fight climate change to meet our obligations and prepare for its impact. We will have to look systematically at every area while continuing to ensure environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness and energy security. It also means consumers, households and industries, all of us, need to be prepared to make significant adjustments and trade-offs.
To reduce emissions, energy efficiency remains our key strategy - we will enhance existing policies and study the introduction of new measures to improve the energy efficiency of industrial equipment and processes, our buildings, and transportation.
Although Singapore has limited alternative energy options, we can do more in terms of adopting solar energy. We have made progress towards increasing the deployment of solar energy to at least 350 MegaWatt peak by 2020. This will make up 5 percent of the projected peak electricity demand.
Madam Chair, climate science is a complex subject that we need to understand more deeply so that we can better prepare ourselves for climate change adequately. We cannot over-build as this incurs high cost; nor under-build for this will spell disaster. Therefore, the Meteorological Service Singapore has been building up expertise to understand tropical weather at a higher resolution because Singapore is so small that the results from global models would not be meaningful. We have to pioneer our own studies.
I would like to highlight one officer who has been involved in this. Mr Raizan Rahmat, a Senior Research Scientist, from the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, and his team worked hard for 2 years to effectively simulate a hundred years of temperature, rainfall, wind and sea-level projections for Singapore and the region. Drawing on a range of disciplines such as physics, climate science and atmospheric dynamics, the team developed climate scenarios that were used by our agencies to conduct impact risk assessments and make more informed decisions on how we can bolster our climate resilience. I wish to share some projections that these studies made. By the last few decades of this century, sea levels are projected to rise by between 0.25m and 0.76m; temperatures may increase by 1.4 to 4.6 degree Celsius; and Singapore will experience more intense rainfall.
Mr Pritam Singh made a suggestion about the possibility of setting up a Climate Change Fund. The Government is taking concrete action to prepare for climate change. We have set aside funds for various sectors and agencies to build up capabilities in climate resilience and look at how we can develop more cost-effective solutions. For example, the Government issued a call for proposals, under the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge, for researchers to propose innovative solutions to reduce the ambient temperature in residential estates by 4 degrees Celsius. The Government is mindful of the potential fiscal costs of implementing climate change measures. Therefore, we are working with the relevant agencies and MOF to determine the required adaptation plans and financing requirements so that we are well-prepared.
Currently, where it is practical we have made hard structures to protect our coastline. We are raising a stretch of Changi Coast Road and Nicoll Drive to guard against sea level rise and we expect this to be completed by mid-2016. These are just some examples of the measures we have taken to safeguard Singapore against rising sea levels. We are confident that Singapore is adequately protected from coastal inundation in the immediate future. To prepare for the longer term, the Building and Construction Authority is conducting a coastal adaptation study which will inform us if additional protection will be needed in the future for our coasts.
The warmer temperatures are also of concern as they could lead to heat-induced illnesses, among other impacts. Government agencies have SOPs and safety guidelines on how to prevent and mitigate heat injury amongst vulnerable groups, as well as those involved in outdoor activities. The Government is also undertaking studies to see how we can reduce ambient temperature, whether it is through having more urban greenery, the use of different building materials or the design of developments.