COP21 climate deal 'strikes the right balance': Vivian Balakrishnan

Singapore is supportive of the landmark COP21 deal to curb global warming, says Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.
Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 15;

PARIS: The COP21 pact strikes the “right balance” between the means of implementation and ambition even though it is "not a perfect agreement”, said Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Saturday (Dec 12).

Cheering envoys from the 195 nations on Saturday approved the landmark agreement after nearly two weeks of negotiations in Paris. The deal could mark the end of decades-long rows between nations on how to carry out a campaign to cap global warming and cope with the impacts of climate change.

“We express our deepest appreciation for your outstanding efforts at arriving at this historic Paris Agreement. And needless to say, we fully support this historic agreement,” said Dr Balakrishnan at the Committee of Paris Session at the COP21 talks.

“I believe the current agreement strikes the right balance between the developed countries and the developing Parties, the right balance between mitigation and adaptation, the right balance between means of implementation and ambition.”

‘NOT A PERFECT AGREEMENT’

Dr Balakrishnan acknowledged that the deal may not be the “perfect agreement”, but it would set the world “on a collective journey for climate safety”.

“We do not live in a perfect world. If this was a perfect world, the problem would have been solved many decades ago. The Kyoto Protocol was paved with good intentions and high ambition, and it was legally binding, but yet it was also fatally flawed because of the lack of universal participation,” he said.

“This is why Singapore has always emphasised the need for a comprehensive, rules-based, legally binding agreement applicable to all. Without universal participation, we will fail the future generations.”

Dr Balakrishnan explained that a key challenge in striking a global climate deal was creating a fair system for all.

“We all want to be treated fairly, but sometimes the perception of fairness is subjective. Hence there needs to be reassurance to all parties that this agreement accounts for the past and looks towards the future - a fair deal that recognises the great diversity of our respective national circumstances,” he said.

“Developed countries have argued that we need to be focused on the present and the future. We agree. But developing countries also point out that the present is a function of the past and that the future is not a given.”

TRANSPARENCY A CORE ISSUE

Dr Balakrishnan also noted that during the COP21 talks, Singapore had pushed for transparency to build mutual trust and confidence within the structure of the agreement. “Good transparency rules hold us accountable to each other. It helps demonstrate that we will do what we say,” he explained.

“We need to account to our own citizens back home. They want to see that we are going to do everything it takes to deal with the challenge of climate change. And transparency keeps us accountable not just to each other as parties but to our own people whom we represent here, and it helps us to collectively move forward with confidence.”

Dr Balakrishnan also thanked the participating nations at the COP21 talks for taking into account the circumstances of low-lying island states.

“The commitment to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2ºC and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC will give us, all the islands, some reassurance,” he said.

“It is not often in the lives of politicians, diplomats or (members of) civil society to be present at the genesis of a major earth-changing moment, and we have been blessed to be here,” he added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the agreement as "historic", adding that Singaporeans have a role in protecting the environment.

"Each of us must play our part, to make personal choices that protect the environment. Reduce, Recycle, Reuse," he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. "Let us work together to ensure the future of our planet for our children and generations to come."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on climate change, described the pact as a "fair and comprehensive agreement".

In a media statement, he said it shows how with goodwill, commitment and willingness to look beyond individual concerns, cooperation among all countries is possible for the global larger, long-term good.

Mr Teo noted that Singapore has contributed to the success of the talks, with ministers and officials playing "the role of an honest broker, to help reach agreement on difficult issues".

With the agreement adopted, he said Singapore will work towards the pledge to reduce emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels, by 2030, and to stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

ABOUT COP21

The crux of the talks entailed slashing or eliminating the use of coal, oil and gas for energy, which has largely powered prosperity since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s. The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to "well below" 2°C compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for a more ambitious goal of 1.5°C.

To do so, emissions of greenhouse gases will need to peak "as soon as possible", followed by rapid reductions, the agreement states. The world has already warmed by almost 1°C, which has caused major problems in dry developing countries, according to scientists.

Developing nations have said that rich countries should shoulder the lion’s share of responsibility in tackling climate change as they have emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.

Ahead of the talks, most nations submitted voluntary plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from 2020. Last week, Singapore pledged its commitment to the environment as well, promising to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels.

- CNA/xq/jo


S’pore hails historic deal, which ‘strikes right balance’
Today Online 13 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE — Singapore today (Dec 13) hailed the Paris climate change pact, with the Republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan calling the accord “a historic, global agreement”.

“What all Parties have achieved is a historic, global agreement which strikes the right balance between developed and developing Parties, the right balance between mitigation and adaptation, and the right balance between means of implementation and ambition, Dr Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post early this morning.

“As a result, the world is placed on a better trajectory to deal with the challenges of climate change, which affects all of us,” he added.

In his post, the Foreign Minister also shared his statement at the Committee of Paris welcoming the climate change deal, which addressed criticisms that it was “not a perfect agreement”, pointing out that the Paris pact was still “a good and necessary agreement” that sets mankind “on a collective journey for climate safety”.

He outlined how the lessons from the “fatally flawed” 1997 Kyoto Protocol, led to Singapore’s emphasis on “a comprehensive, rules-based, legally binding agreement applicable to all.”

Dr Balakrishnan noted that the key hurdle in climate talks has always been about differentiation, or how countries are divided in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as Annex One developed countries and Non-Annex One developing countries, with the former expected to take on greater responsibilities.

“Developed countries … have to be seen to be fulfilling their prior commitments and to continue to take the lead. Without this reassurance, there would have been insufficient strategic trust for the rest of the world, the developing country Parties, to raise our ambition at great cost to ourselves,” the Foreign Minister wrote.

Dr Balakrishnan added that transparency in the agreement is necessary to build mutual trust and confidence among nations, as well as ensuring accountability to each country’s citizens.

Writing on social media, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also praised the accord yesterday as “a historic deal”, and thanked Dr Balakrishnan, public service officers, groups and individuals in Singapore for “their support to this important issue”.

“Each of us must play our part, to make personal choices that protect the environment ... Let us work together to ensure the future of our planet for our children and generations to come,” Mr Lee wrote.

In a statement issued today, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also noted how the Paris agreement showed that “goodwill, commitment and willingness to look beyond individual concerns, cooperation among all countries is possible for the global larger, long-term good”, and said that the Republic was “honoured” to have contributed to the success of the talks.

“Our ministers and officials have done well by playing the role of an honest broker, to help reach agreement on difficult issues,” said Mr Teo, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli also thanked Dr Balakrishnan for his committed role in climate change negotiations over the past several years. “We have reached a historical deal in Paris. However, this is not the end, but the beginning of this global journey,” Mr Masagos wrote on Facebook this morning.

Singapore has played an outsized role in the climate change negotiations, with Dr Balakrishnan tasked by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to coordinate informal consultations on differentiation, while the Republic’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng worked on refining a key article on transparency in the finalised pact.


Singapore leaders hail historic Paris climate agreement
AsiaOne 13 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE - Singapore leaders have hailed the landmark accord reached in Paris on Saturday (Dec 12) to fight global warming and climate change, saying that it sets the world on a collective journey for climate safety.

In his statement at the Committee of Paris, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan expressed appreciation to parties at the talks for taking into account the special circumstances of vulnerable, low-lying island states.

"The commitment to hold the 'increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celcius', and to 'pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celcius' will give us, all the islands, some reassurance," he noted.

Mr Balakrishnan, who headed the Singapore delegation at the conference, said Singapore had always emphasised the need for a comprehensive, rules-based and legally binding agreement that was applicable to all.

"I believe the current agreement strikes the right balance between the developed countries and the developing parties, the right balance between mitigation and adaptation, the right balance between means of implementation and ambition," he said.

He added: "It is not often in the lives of politicians, diplomats or [members of] civil society to be present at the genesis of a major earth-changing moment, and we have been blessed to be here, in Paris, on the 12th of December 2015."

In a statement on Facebook on Sunday (Dec 13), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the agreement as a "historic deal, decades in the making".

He thanked Mr Balakrishnan, who saw through the agreement previously as Singapore's Environment Minister and now as Foreign Minister, as well as Singapore officers across different ministries and agencies for their hard work and close teamwork.

He reminded Singaporeans that all must play a part in making personal choices to protect the environment. "Reduce, Recycle, Reuse. Let us work together to ensure the future of our planet for our children and generations to come."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also welcomed the "fair and comprehensive" agreement.

"Singapore will work towards our pledge to reduce our emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise our emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030," he stressed.

Mr Teo, who is also chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, added that Singapore was honoured to have contributed to the success of the talks, and that the agreement shows how "with goodwill, commitment and willingness to look beyond individual concerns, cooperation among all countries is possible for the global larger, long-term good".

Meanwhile, current Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli took to Facebook, saying that the deal is "not the end, but the beginning of this global journey. This is a very important step towards mitigating climate change."

The Paris agreement was finally adopted by close to 200 nations on Saturday, after an extra day which followed nearly two weeks of negotiations. It ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion dollar campaign to cap global warming, AFP reported.

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