Singapore reaffirms commitment to Paris climate accord after US says it plans to withdraw

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 2 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — The Republic has reaffirmed its commitment to play its part to curb climate change in the wake of United States President Donald Trump's announcement that his country intends to pull out of the Paris Agreement involving more than 190 countries.

"As a low-lying, island city-state, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and we have a deep interest in global efforts to address potential disruptions to natural ecosystems and human societies," said the National Climate Change Secreteriat in a statement on Friday (June 2). "As a small country, we have also staunchly supported the rules-based multilateral system, and upheld the critical role of diplomacy in solving problems on the global commons."

Singapore believes that a global approach towards dealing with climate change is the best chance the international community has at effectively addressing its effects, the secretariat said. "We remain committed to undertaking the measures needed to achieve our Paris pledge, including implementing a carbon tax from 2019. We stand ready to work with all parties and stakeholders to address this urgent challenge together."

Mr Trump's decision has drawn criticism and opposition from other countries and climate scientists. President and chief executive of the World Resources Institute Andrew Steer, for instance, said in a statement that the "deeply misguided decision" would be "bad for the world, but even worse for the United States”.

He said: “President Trump should not turn his back on more than 1,000 major companies and investors, and 70 percent of Americans who want the US to stay in the Agreement. Sadly, President Trump appears to be falling for 20th century economic thinking, when more efficient, cleaner 21st century opportunities are there for the taking. In withdrawing, he would relinquish US leadership, moving away from a group of 195 countries and join a party of just three — the US, Nicaragua and Syria."

In a Facebook post, Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan wrote that Mr Trump's decision was "a great pity" as climate change is a "real and present danger to our collective future".

Singapore Environment Council chairman Isabella Loh added that the US' withdrawal from the accord would be a "significant, disappointing drawback for the global fight against climate change". The US accounted for 15 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2016, she noted.

Ms Loh added: "Given the overwhelming international consensus on climate action, together with the undeniable strength of the science behind it, we believe it is unlikely the US’ decision will have much influence on other nations. The key to the success of the Paris Agreement is for individual countries to implement policies that will achieve their nation’s targets. Three quarters of the world’s nations have ratified the agreement, including China and India. Together the remaining nations can continue to fight for the future of our planet, even if the US decides not to participate."

Denouncing Trump’s decision, Greenpeace International said in a statement the decision would cost the US its global leadership position and its share of the economic benefits of the clean energy transition.

Its international executive director Jennifer Morgan said: “Trump talks about what is fair for the US, but instead should also consider what is fair for all and those already living with the devastating impacts of climate change. Global climate action can deliver prosperity and security for the US and the rest of the world together.”


Singapore reaffirms commitment to Paris climate agreement after US pullout
Channel NewsAsia 2 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Friday (Jun 2) reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement and its pledge to reduce emissions intensity and stabilise emissions, after US President Donald Trump announced he is pulling his country out of the global climate change agreement.

"As a low-lying, island city-state, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and we have a deep interest in global efforts to address potential disruptions to natural ecosystems and human societies," the National Climate Change Secretariat said in a statement.

"As a small country, we have also staunchly supported the rules-based multilateral system, and upheld the critical role of diplomacy in solving problems on the global commons."

It added that Singapore will continue contributing to the global effort to address climate change.

"We believe that a global approach towards dealing with climate change is the best chance the international community has at effectively addressing its effects. We remain committed to undertaking the measures needed to achieve our Paris pledge, including implementing a carbon tax from 2019."

Singapore had previously stated in its Nationally Determined Contribution that it aims to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise its emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

MOVE AHEAD WITH CLEAN ENERGY PLANS: SEC

The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) said in a separate statement on Friday that the decision taken by the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement would not stop Singapore taking action against climate change. SEC chairman Isabella Loh urged the country to move ahead with its plans to create a sustainable energy future based on more energy-efficient industries and the development of clean energy technologies.

Ms Loh pointed out that the Singapore Government had announced it would put a price on carbon to tackle emission intensity, which she said is "the most efficient and cost-effective way for Singapore to meet our obligations" under the global accord sealed in 2015.

“The key to the success of the Paris Agreement is for individual countries to implement policies that will achieve their nation’s targets. Three quarters of the world’s nations have ratified the agreement, including China and India,” she said.
Source: CNA/kk

US withdrawal from Paris Agreement 'a great pity': Vivian Balakrishnan
Channel NewsAsia 2 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: America's withdrawal from the Paris climate deal is "a great pity", Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said on Friday (Jun 2).

"A great pity. China and the USA worked so well to help achieve global consensus on climate change - a real and present danger for our collective future," wrote Dr Balakrishnan in a Facebook post.

Posting a photo of himself posing with Chinese envoy Xie Zhenhua and US envoy Todd Stern on the night the Paris Agreement was settled, he wrote that the participants had been "exhausted, but happy and proud" on the night.

Singapore reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on Friday and its pledge to reduce emissions intensity and to stabilise emissions.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced America's withdrawal from the Paris climate deal, saying that the United States would abandon the current deal but was open to a new one.

The Paris Agreement commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Signatories vowed to keep the global rise in temperatures to well below 2°C from pre-industrial times and to "pursue efforts" to hold the increase under 1.5°C.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli also expressed his disappointment at Washington's withdrawal from the pact.

"Nonetheless, I am heartened that many world leaders, as well as leaders of the business community have come out to express their continued commitment to the Paris pledge," he said in a Facebook post.

He added that Singapore also recognises it has to play a part in mitigating climate change.

"Singapore is no exception. Whilst we are a small nation, we recognise that we have a key role to play in mitigating climate change, and will continue in our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint."

Everyone can do more to make lifestyle changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Masagos said: "Small steps like using less plastic bags, reducing food waste and conserving water goes a long way".


With US out of climate pact, others have to do more with less: DPM Teo
NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 6 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — With the United States pulling out of the global Paris climate agreement and stopping contributions to a climate change fund, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday he hopes that international cooperation on this front will continue.

On its part, the Republic will continue training overseas officials in key areas such as sustainable urban and water management because “that’s the area (in which) Singapore thinks it can make the biggest contribution”.

The Republic benefited most from the knowledge of other countries when it became independent from Britain and, later, Malaysia, said Mr Teo, who was speaking at Temasek Holdings’ annual sustainability conference.

In support of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Singapore has trained more than 112,000 officials from over 170 developing countries, and will continue to do so, Mr Teo added.

During a question-and-answer session after his speech outlining Singapore’s efforts in sustainability, Mr Teo was asked by the moderator, Professor Chan Heng Chee, what he thought would be the consequences of the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement.

In response, Mr Teo noted that the accord — ratified by 147 countries so far — is operative even without the US, which contributes about 18 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The US was a significant contributor to the Green Climate Fund, which is used by developing nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“It remains to be seen how the books will be balanced in terms of contributions”, he said. “I think in the end, we may have to do more with less, and that’s part of being sustainable too.” The “big story” however, is how the economics of generating electricity is driving towards natural gas and renewables, he added. The cost of generating electricity from renewable energy or shale gas in the US is now lower than coal, he noted.

Singapore remains committed to the Paris Agreement but it is not a contributor to the Green Climate Fund.

Mr Teo was also asked by Professor David King — the United Kingdom’s former permanent Special Representative for Climate Change — if Singapore would chip in for the fund, which was established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Governments of 43 countries, including Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and Japan, have pledged US$10.3 billion (S$14.2 billion) to the fund. The US has contributed US$1 billion out of a US$3 billion pledge.

Mr Teo said there was a wider debate — on common but differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing countries — going on, than “whose pockets and which pockets seem to have coins jingling in them and can be drawn upon”.

He noted that newly developed and developing economies “quite correctly” say that global warming is because of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, and they argue that developed countries thus have a greater responsibility to deal with the problem.

“And one of the reasons why there’s this Green Climate Fund ... because that’s a way to bring on board developing countries, allow them to develop in a way which the developed countries did not, in a much greener way, without putting out so much carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere,” Mr Teo said.

“The developed countries would, in a sense, make up for the current stock of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by making contributions to the Green Climate Fund. And that was part of the balance and part of the equation in arriving at the Paris agreement to bring everyone on board.”

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