Singapore government to have better ability to minimise climate change effects

Channel NewsAsia 7 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: The government's ability to minimise Singapore's physical vulnerabilities to climate change will be enhanced by 2016.

Inter-government agencies are expected to release long-term plans to safeguard Singapore against projected climate change effects under the Resilience Framework.

The Resilience Framework, announced in 2012, provides a holistic guide to inter-government agencies on how to assess Singapore's physical vulnerabilities to climate change.

By 2016, these agencies are expected to release long-term plans to safeguard Singapore against projected climate change effects.

It was revealed on Monday that the framework incorporates risk assessment and adaptation planning.

For example, under the framework, roads are assessed for vulnerabilities.

There could be flooding when there is extreme weather and so the roads' threshold levels against extremities will be analysed.

From there, measures could be developed to prevent or minimise the risk of climate change on roads.

It is hoped that the framework can also be applied not just to public infrastructure, but also to private sector assets.

Speaking at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Regional Outreach Event, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan stressed the importance of adaptation in the face of climate change uncertainties.

He added that inaction is not a viable option for Singapore.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "Since 1965, when we gained independence, long before environmental sustainability and being green became fashionable, long before climate change became a global issue, the Singapore government very deliberately and persistently ensured that our aggressive push for economic development would be accompanied by environmental protection in making sure that we would be clean, green, safe and sustainable.

“For us, the environment and economy are not trade-offs between each other but a positive, virtuous cycle."

- CNA/xq

S’pore gears up for climate change
Exercise will study measures needed to help public infrastructure adapt to higher temperatures, rise in sea level
Neo Chai Chin Today Online 8 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — Details on getting the Republic’s roads, drains, airport and other infrastructure ready for climate change will be firmed up from 2016, as government agencies examine how public infrastructure must adapt to higher temperatures, more intense rainfall, rise in sea level and stronger winds.

The extent of rises in sea level that roads can withstand and the type of adaptation measures needed will be studied, for example.

The exercise will take place under a resilience framework that puts climate change risks and adaptation under sharper focus than before. It will take into account findings such as those of Singapore’s second National Climate Change Study, which will project climate parameters in greater detail.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said it had developed the framework to identify, assess and mitigate climate change risks in May, following the President’s Address at the reopening of the 12th Parliament.

The authorities learnt from countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia, which have similar frameworks, said spokespersons from the MEWR and Ministry of National Development yesterday.

Deciding what is adequate and effective is “not straightforward and it’s not a trivial matter”, said Minister for the Environment and Water ResourcesVivian Balakrishnan yesterday to about 260 scientists, policymakers, students and private-sector representatives at a regional outreach event organised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Singapore Government.

This is due to uncertainties in the science, economics and political process surrounding climate change, he added. Despite advances in technology, “science will have gaps, knowledge will be updated and decisions will have to be reviewed and changed as time goes on”.

The South-east Asian region is highly vulnerable and there is an urgent need to update our understanding of the climate system and its impact on future livelihoods and security, said Dr Balakrishnan.

There are also knowledge gaps for the region — studies about the impact of climate change on the monsoon season are lacking, for instance, said Professor Fredolin Tangang of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, who is vice-chair of the IPCC Working Group that authored the physical science basis of its latest assessment report.

More environmental economists are also needed to calculate the costs and benefits of various scenarios, said Professor Wong Poh Poh, coordinating lead author of the chapter on coastal systems and low-lying areas as well as the only Singaporean scientist among the report’s authors.

Other experts noted the vast business opportunities that climate change offers.

Chemistry and material sciences can make a big difference in solar energy and battery storage, smarter grids can better connect consumers and suppliers of electricity, while there is potential for big improvements to crops grown for energy uses, said Professor Jim Skea of Imperial College London and vice-chair of the IPCC working group on mitigation of climate change.

Big study on how climate change affects Singapore
David Ee The Straits Times AsiaOne 8 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE is embarking on a nationwide effort to study how climate change will affect every piece of state infrastructure on the island - from roads and power stations to parks.

Every government agency and statutory board will be involved in what is a key plank in the nation's strategy to cope with the inevitable impact of a warming planet.

For instance, the more than 3,000km road network will be studied to understand how rising sea levels and extreme weather such as intense rain, higher temperatures and flooding could affect it.

The study will then look for ways to make these more resilient, as well as predict what would happen if nothing is done, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Ministry of National Development yesterday.

Ministry representatives spoke to the media on the sidelines of an event yesterday by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the Furama Riverfront Hotel to give insights on its recent report. The IPCC said that sea levels could rise by up to 0.82m by 2100, depending on greenhouse gas emissions.

Its scientists also predict that South-east Asia will get both hotter and wetter in future, while intense rain and dry spells may become more common.

The risk assessment framework was developed by the Government earlier this year to add to its climate change strategy.

It represents a more systematic method to guide agencies as they plan how to address climate change, said the spokesmen.

It would also help identify measures to adapt to climate change early.

Lessons were drawn from similar frameworks in the United States, Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and South Korea.

The first findings from the study will be available in 2016. The Government hopes that the private sector would subsequently adopt its own framework.

Yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan spoke at the event about Singapore's vulnerabilities as a low-lying and densely populated city-state.

"We have witnessed for ourselves the increase in frequency and intensity of rainfall, as well as higher temperatures and longer periods of dry spells," said Dr Balakrishnan, who cited how Singapore had imported sand at "tremendous economic cost" to ensure that its reclaimed land was 2.25m above the highest tide level, to guard against sea-level rise.

"If we don't prepare adequately enough, then if and when a disaster occurs, the costs are escalated," he said.

Meanwhile, IPCC scientists said yesterday that not enough research exists for them to understand well how climate change will affect weather phenomena in South-east Asia.

They called for more studies to be done, as well as more local scientists to contribute to the IPCC's work.