Speech by Acting Minister for Manpower and Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin for Earth Hour 2013 at the Float @ Marina Bay
A very good evening to all of you. It’s very good to see so many of you gathered here today and I understand that around Singapore and around the world, many people are gathered in different places to celebrate this.
Growing awareness on environmental issues
What is remarkable is that in Singapore, this is the fourth run we’ve celebrated Earth Hour. This started in 2007 and is very much a ground-up initiative. I’m not sure whether the organisers who started it way back in 2007 expected this event to become quite a global phenomenon. As I understand it, it now encompasses over 7,000 cities and towns in 152 different countries involving hundreds of millions of participants across seven continents.
I think how it all started is something worthwhile for us to think about – how a group that decided to start an event like this, how it caught on, how it grew, and I think it will continue to grow from year to year, and from strength to strength. This is symbolic and it shows us how through the different actions that we take, the different ground-up movements that we’re beginning to see around the world and even in Singapore itself, whether it’s the kindness movement, whether it’s all these little things, that make the world and society a better place. All these efforts do count and I think that we should not underestimate the difference that we can make.
As a result of us taking part in it, being involved, being aware, and just being here allows us to become a little bit more aware of what is happening around the world. For example, we did a public perception survey in 2011 by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and it revealed that 86 percent of Singaporeans surveyed felt a deep sense of responsibility in playing their part to address climate change. The good thing is that the sense of responsibility is there, so what we really need to do is to see that this 86 percent who responded positively will then take positive actions as well. I would suggest not just the individuals, but to encourage family, friends and colleagues at the workplace. Firstly to raise awareness, and just to start raising awareness of all these little actions that we are committing ourselves to, for example, this event itself.
Government’s efforts in promoting sustainable development
What Earth Hour really needs all of us to do is to carry out simple acts. On our part, in terms of government for example, we are trying to encourage more energy conscious behaviour. A simple one is, for example, in terms of requiring our buildings to meet minimum Green Mark standards. Basically it is a green building rating system by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) that is used to evaluate a building’s environmental impact and performance. Just last year, we mandated that existing buildings must meet minimum Green Mark standards as and when they undergo retrofits. The Green Mark schemes also extend beyond existing buildings to cover supermarket operators, retail tenants and data centres.
We’re also looking into putting into effect the Energy Conservation Act, which requires large energy users to implement energy management practices.
Active community participation will make a bigger difference
The long and short of it is this, as mentioned by many of the speakers here – we all know that we only have one Earth. Notwithstanding whatever science fiction movies you watch about other places you can go to. We really need to do our part and I think it is the little things that make a difference. There are many commitments that we have put in place today. And I hope that not only you put it, but practice it not just as a one-off effort but on a daily basis.
So with that, thank you very much for all your support and I do encourage you to get more people involved next year as well.
Source: Ministry of National Development