Countries need to 'roll up sleeves', make Paris climate deal happen: Masagos

Channel NewsAsia 17 Nov 16;

SINGAPORE: History will judge the Paris Agreement not just by how many countries signed it or how quickly it entered into force, but also how effectively countries implement it, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Nov 16).

The Paris accord, sealed late last year in the French capital, commits countries to make plans to keep global warming "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial levels to try to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Speaking at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22), Mr Masagos said that the agreement entering into force less than a year after it was adopted was "testament to the fact that with strong political will, countries can set their differences aside and work towards a common global imperative".

"We must now prove that we can, individually and collectively, take actions to achieve the aims of this agreement," he said. "We must now roll up our sleeves and make it happen."

Singapore was one of the first 55 countries to ratify the agreement on Sep 21 and is "proud to have contributed to the agreement's early entry into force", the Minister said.

He urged more countries to ratify the agreement as "a strong global response to climate change requires universal participation".

In the meantime, Mr Masagos said that the next priority would be to develop the rulebook for the Paris deal with a "cooperative and pragmatic spirit".

There have been clashes between parties in the negotiation of the agreement, including Australia and New Zealand blocking a bid from low-lying Pacific island nations for a tougher global target and disagreements between France and the US on whether the deal should be legally binding.

Mr Masagos said that while developing the rulebook for the Paris accord, "it is imperative that parties look forward and not backwards".

"We need to move on together and avoid renegotiating resolved issues that will only divide us," he added.

SINGAPORE "ON TRACK" TO MEET PRE-2020 PLEDGE

The Environment and Water Resources Minister said at the conference that Singapore was "on track" to meet its pre-2020 pledge under the agreement, according to the climate action plan it released in July.

For example, to reduce emissions from power generation, Singapore aims to raise the adoption of solar power in its system to 350 Mega Watt peak by 2020, an 18 times increase as compared to 2014.

"We are also undertaking various actions to enhance our resilience to climate change. For example, the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built 5.5m above the mean sea level," Mr Masagos said.

"As a small city-state, Singapore needs to plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the context of our unique constraints of land, energy and water. Notwithstanding these constraints, we will do our part as a responsible member of the international community," he added.

Singapore was one of 170 countries to welcome the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of hydroflorocarbons, a category of dangerous greenhouse gases widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners, last month.

The country will be submitting its second biennial update report on its efforts to fulfill its pre-2020 pledge under the agreement in December this year, according to Mr Masagos.

- CNA/mz



National Statement of Singapore Delivered by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources at the UNFCCC COP-22, 16 November 2016, Marrakech, Morocco
MEWR website

Mr President,

1. The Paris Agreement has entered into force on 4th November, less than a year after it was adopted.

a. This is testament to the fact that with strong political will, countries can set their differences aside and work towards a common global imperative.

b. As a small country, Singapore strongly supports and relies on a rules-based multilateral system. On our part, we have actively worked with all Parties to forge the Paris Agreement. To show our commitment to the Agreement, we ratified it on 21 September 2016 and were one of the first 55 Parties to do so. We are proud to have contributed to the Agreement’s early entry into force.

c. Let us ensure that this momentum of ratification continues even after its entry into force. A strong global response to climate change requires universal participation of the Agreement. We look forward to announcements of more ratifications in the coming days at COP-22.

2. We are now moving to the next phase of climate action – the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

a. Our key task ahead would be to expeditiously develop the Paris Agreement Rulebook with the same cooperative and pragmatic spirit that led to the successful outcome at COP-21. It is imperative that Parties look forward and not backwards. We need to move on together and avoid re-negotiating resolved issues that will only divide us.

b. Thankfully, we are not starting from scratch for most of these rules. We have many years of experiences under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol to draw from. That said, we should not be averse to creative and pragmatic approaches so as to enable all Parties to play their part under the Paris Agreement. All of us must press on with our efforts to address climate change no matter the challenges we may face in the political environment.

c. One key outcome of COP-22 is to establish a roadmap for negotiations on the Paris Agreement Rulebook, with clear milestones to guide the pace of negotiations. This will provide confidence to all Parties that progress will be made across all issues despite their varying levels of maturity and complexity.

3. Beyond efforts under the UNFCCC, it is also worthwhile for us to recognise and encourage global climate action undertaken by other sectors.

a. Recently, the 39th ICAO Assembly adopted the Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM) for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). This is a historic outcome for ICAO. Already, 66 States, including Singapore, covering 87% of international aviation activity have indicated that they will voluntarily participate in the GMBM from its early phase. This demonstrates the leadership and competency of specialised agencies like ICAO and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to develop appropriate schemes for their sectors on their own.

b. Singapore also joined some 170 countries to welcome the landmark agreement to phase down the use of HFCs at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol last month. This agreement was the result of our collective political will to protect the environment. Singapore remains committed to working towards meeting the global ambition to phase down the use of HFCs.

c. At the same time, we must recognise that deforestation and forest fires are still regular occurrences that plague our region, Southeast Asia, especially when they are cleared for commercial use. When the fires burn over peat land, large quantities of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, and are a key threat to the global effort to address climate change. Hence, the protection of our forests and prevention of peat land fires are key to our global climate action plan. In this connection, we appreciate the response by Indonesia to tighten and enforce laws to address forest fires. This increased efforts effectively prevented large CO2 emission recurring from the burning of peatlands. We look forward for these efforts to be sustained together with strong regional cooperation. Both of these will contribute to the vision of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020. In this regard, governments, investors, purchasers and consumers also have significant roles to play to ensure unsustainable commercial practices are not rewarded.

d. Regional efforts can play a useful role in catalysing climate action as well. In Southeast Asia, ASEAN Member States collaborate on climate change efforts through the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change. This platform allows us to share best practices and lessons learnt with each other. ASEAN seeks to be open and inclusive, and we welcome other UNFCCC Parties to work with us to achieve our common aims.

e. Voluntary initiatives by non-Party stakeholders are an important complement to national efforts. The Global Climate Action Agenda is important in this context. The Action Agenda allows various stakeholders to identify synergies and formulate holistic strategies to facilitate the fundamental changes we need. Sustained investments of time and effort are required to catalyse such initiatives. We are thus pleased that the Climate Champions[1] are personally overseeing this Action Agenda.

4. Even as we collaborate globally, we need to work locally to achieve our respective pre-2020 pledges, so as to lay down a firm foundation for the effective implementation of our post-2020 pledges.

a. Singapore is on track to meet our pre-2020 pledge. We will be submitting our 2nd Biennial Update Report in December 2016, which will detail our efforts to fulfil our pre-2020 pledge.

b. With the ratification of the Agreement, Singapore has also formalised our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – to lower our Emissions Intensity (EI) by 36% from 2005 levels, and to stabilise our emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. Singapore takes our pledge seriously. We released our latest Climate Action Plan in July 2016 which explains Singapore’s strategies to achieve our NDC objectives. For example, despite our small land area and high urban density constraints, we aim to raise the adoption of solar power in our system from around 100 megawatt peak (MWp) today to 350 MWp by 2020. We are also undertaking various actions to enhance our resilience to climate change. For example, the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built 5.5 metres above the mean sea level.

c. Singapore’s climate efforts build on our early actions which have been recognised by the international community. According to the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities index, Singapore is Asia’s most sustainable city and the second most sustainable city in the world, after Zurich.[2] Our commitment to sustainable development has also resulted in us being ranked among the 20 best-performing countries in the world on Emissions Intensity in 2015.[3]

5. Climate change mitigation and adaptation are long term endeavours that extend well beyond 2030.

a. As a small city state, Singapore needs to plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the context of our unique constraints of land, energy and water. Notwithstanding these constraints, we will do our part as a responsible member of the international community.

b. Singapore uses various tools to inform our long-term climate efforts. Our technology roadmaps help us guide research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) efforts, to realise the long-term mitigation potential of key sectors. We have completed seven technology roadmaps, covering solar photovoltaics (PV), building energy efficiency, industry energy efficiency, green data centres, Carbon Capture and Storage/Utilisation (CCS/U), solid waste management and electro-mobility. We also use high resolution climate models to project regional climate changes, such as temperature and sea-level rise. These models inform our adaptation plans in areas such as coastal protection, water resources and drainage, biodiversity and greenery, network infrastructure and building infrastructure.

Mr President,

6. The Paris Agreement is an important milestone and will be remembered in history as such.

a. However, the success of the Paris Agreement will not be determined just by how many Parties signed it or how quickly it entered into force. History will judge the success of the Paris Agreement based on how effectively we implement it.

b. We must now show that we can create durable rules and enduring action. We must now prove that we can, individually and collectively, take actions to achieve the aims of this Agreement. In short, we must now roll up our sleeves and make it happen.

c. The first step in this long journey starts here at COP-22. Singapore stands ready to work with all Parties to continue to make history and redefine our future.

Thank you Mr President.

[1] Under the COP-21 decisions, Parties agreed to appoint two Climate Champions between 2016-2020 to speed up and scale up immediate climate action, who would be selected successively from outgoing and incoming Presidencies of the annual UN climate change conference.
[2] Source: Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index, 2016.
[3] Source: IEA Key World Energy Statistics, 2015. Comparisons based on available carbon emissions per US$GDP data.

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