Written reply by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to parliamentary question on impact of climate change, 14 February 2012
WRITTEN REPLY BY DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES, TO PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION ON IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE, 14 FEBRUARY 2012
Question by Er Dr Lee Bee Wah:
To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources:
a. How has the rise in sea water levels affected all the reclaimed land on our shorelines;
b. How is the Ministry monitoring climate change and its impact on our building design and structure; and
c. Whether there is an inter-Ministry committee to focus on climate change and study its implications on lifestyles.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change (IMCCC) chaired by DPM Teo Chee Hean and which comprises Ministers from MFA, MTI, MEWR, MND, MOF and MOT, oversees Singapore’s domestic and international policies, plans and actions on climate change.
Under the IMCCC, MEWR and MND co-lead the Resilience Working Group (RWG) which is studying measures to address our physical vulnerabilities to climate change. It will also review existing adaptation measures and develop long-term adaptation plans to ensure that Singapore is able to cope with climate change.
Singapore Study on Climate Change
To better understand the possible long-term impacts of climate change on Singapore, NEA commissioned a climate change study in 2007 involving both local and foreign experts to better understand Singapore’s vulnerabilities to climate change. The results of the 2007 study have been factored into the Government’s climate change adaptation planning.
The first phase of the climate change study covered the physical impacts of climate change such as average temperature and sea level changes. The second phase of the study, which looks into the potential impacts of climate change on public health, urban temperatures, and biodiversity, is currently underway.
Protecting against rising sea level
Since 1991, all new reclamation projects have been built to at least 1.25m above the highest recorded tide level. This buffer provides protection against a rise in sea level due to short-lived extreme events, such as storm surges and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effects. Arising from the 2007 study, this buffer requirement was revised upwards by another 1m to provide additional safeguard against the projection of a potential rise in mean sea level of about 0.65 m by 2100, and cater for uncertainty in ice sheet melting.
Climate change impact on building design and structure
The climate change study in 2007 found that the future wind speed will not be higher than the current wind speed. As such, the structural integrity of buildings will not be affected. Our buildings are designed based on the British Codes of Practice and the basic structural materials for our buildings are concrete and steel. These are durable materials that are resistant to temperature variation. The range of average temperatures in UK is higher than what could be experienced in Singapore.
As part of whole-of-government efforts, BCA has, together with other agencies and institutes of higher learning, embarked on further studies to acquire a better understanding of the effects of climate change on Singapore’s urban infrastructure, including building design and structure. BCA will share the findings in due course and consult key stakeholders.
While the government has taken action based on available studies, MEWR and NEA are building up enhanced capabilities in climate science and modelling with the establishment of a Centre for Climate Science Singapore (CCRS) within the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS). We will also form networks with relevant experts and institutions at the forefront of climate research. Strong climate science capabilities and updated scientific information will further enhance our assessment of risk to adverse impacts of climate change, and better inform agencies on the adaptive measures required to mitigate these risks.