Opening Address by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli at the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA)
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests
Good morning and welcome to the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA) in Singapore. Your presence here today underscores ASEAN’s commitment in tackling climate change.
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century. The ASEAN region, whose population centres lie along low-lying coasts and river plains, is highly vulnerable to sea level rise and climate extremes. In 2013, we witnessed the devastation brought about by Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, when it swept through northern Southeast Asia. Over 6,000 lives were lost, with more than US$10 billion worth of damages. But imagine some time before the end of this century, storms like this or even worse may hit places never known to be ravaged by severe winds or rains. That is what scientists are telling us can happen if we do nothing about climate change.
The impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, threaten to undo our economic progress. A study by the Asian Development Bank estimates global flood losses of US$52 billion per year by 2050, up from US$6 billion in 2005. ASEAN Member States must strengthen our climate resilience, while pursuing climate mitigation measures to tackle the root causes of climate change.
ASEAN has consistently supported global efforts to address climate change, including ratification of the Paris Agreement, and submission of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). ASEAN is pursuing efforts to reduce energy intensity in the region by 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, and to increase the component of renewable energy mix by 23 per cent by 2025. We must continue the good work done at both the regional and national levels.
SAMCA and the Talanoa Dialogue
2018 will be an important year for global climate discussions at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Parties are working towards finalising the Paris Agreement Work Programme to enable the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Even though 178 parties have ratified the Paris Agreement, more work needs to be done to achieve the goal of keeping global average temperatures well below 2oC. The Talanoa Dialogue, under Fiji’s initiative and leadership, was launched at the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) last year for Parties to take stock of the collective efforts under the Paris Agreement and to explore ways to increase the ambition of their NDCs by 2020. It is a year-long process involving Parties and non-party stakeholders, that will culminate in political discussions at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, where leaders will detail their plans moving forward.
ASEAN can contribute and show that we are prepared to play our part in the global effort. Singapore, as Chair of ASEAN, and in line with our theme on resilience and innovation, has convened SAMCA as a platform for the region to demonstrate our commitment to climate action.
The back-to-back expanded meeting, or E-SAMCA will also allow ASEAN Member States to engage our regional partners China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, together with the current and incoming COP Presidencies Fiji and Poland as well as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC to consider how we can collectively as a region contribute to the international climate discussions.
During our SAMCA session, ASEAN Member States will have the opportunity to share our climate action plans. I am looking forward to the discussions. This is a timely opportunity for ASEAN to take stock of our current efforts and jointly chart our future ambitions. A summary of our discussions at the meetings today will be submitted as input to the Talanoa Dialogue.
Singapore’s efforts and Climate Action Package
Singapore is committed to playing its part to support global efforts to address climate change. Even though Singapore’s share of global emissions is only around 0.12 percent, we are taking ambitious steps to reduce our carbon emissions, including implementing a carbon tax from 2019. We also recognise the importance of regional and international cooperation on climate action.
Singapore is committed to supporting regional efforts to address climate change. We are pleased to announce the launch of a Climate Action Package (CAP) under the Singapore Cooperation Programme, which will commence in 2018 and run till 2020. Through the CAP, we will organise programmes to develop capacity in key areas such as disaster risk reduction, climate science, flood management and long-term mitigation and adaptation strategies. These courses will be refreshed on annual basis, and the CAP reviewed prior to 2020. We hope that the CAP will be useful to ASEAN countries as they ramp up actions to address climate change.
Apart from capacity building, Singapore is also doing our part to enhance the region’s resilience to climate change risks. To address the rising natural catastrophe protection gap in the region, Singapore is supporting the establishment of the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (“SEADRIF”) which will be set up in Singapore by 2019. As ASEAN’s first regional catastrophe risk pool, SEADRIF will provide immediate liquidity to cover emergency response costs in the aftermath of natural catastrophes, with an initial focus on flood risk exposures of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and with the potential to expand in scope to other ASEAN countries and natural catastrophes in the future. An initiative like SEADRIF will play a significant role in strengthening the region’s economic resilience to disaster risks and mitigating the adverse economic impacts of climate change.
We are also supporting efforts to improve the region’s meteorological capabilities, which would in turn strengthen countries’ own efforts in climate projections and adaptation planning. The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS), as host of the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), earlier announced in May that the ASMC will be investing S$5 million (US$3.67 million) in a 5-year regional capability development programme. The programme will include thematic workshops on the interpretation of climate change projections to formulate climate change adaptation planning, developing seasonal prediction products, as well as numerical weather prediction. This programme will benefit ASEAN countries through the sharing of technical knowledge and skills in weather and climate prediction.
Finally, Singapore is committed to helping ASEAN countries to advance our scientific understanding of tropical climate variability and change, and its associated impact on the Southeast Asian region. MSS and the Centre for Climate Research Singapore are committed to sharing their climate projections data and findings for the region with other ASEAN countries. We hope that this will deepen the region’s understanding of climate science and help the region better prepare and plan for different climatic contingencies.
To conclude, Singapore is committed to working with our fellow ASEAN countries to address the risks of climate change. We hope SAMCA will provide a platform for ASEAN to demonstrate our commitment and build regional momentum in advancing climate action. I look forward to a fruitful exchange.
Source: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources