Climate S.O.S

Besides regulatory measures targeting industrial sector, efforts to change mindsets will be key next year
Audrey Tan Straits Times 27 Dec 17;

Over the past year, Singapore has shown how serious it is about tackling the threat of climate change.

It has ramped up, or announced plans to implement, various regulatory initiatives to help the Republic reduce its carbon emissions.

These measures are significant as they target the heaviest emitters: The industrial sector contributes about 60 per cent of carbon emissions in Singapore.

In March, changes were made to the Energy Conservation Act to force large polluters here to step up their green efforts or face enhanced penalties.

Companies have to adopt, among other things, a structured measurement and reporting system for their greenhouse gas emissions.

This will pave the way for a carbon tax scheme that the Government plans to impose from 2019.

But what is also important is the soft approach to tackling climate change, such as by changing people's attitudes and empowering them to make a difference.

Singapore has designated 2018 as its Year of Climate Action, with educational campaigns and outreach efforts on the cards.

The Environment and Water Resources Ministry is engaging climate groups here on ideas for campaigns.

The initiative is timely, especially against a backdrop of increasingly frequent and more intense weather events around the world, which scientists say are symptomatic of climate change.

Singapore may contribute just 0.11 per cent of global emissions, but it ranks 26th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita.

This means that each person in Singapore produces more carbon emissions than his counterpart in Britain, Switzerland or France,according to 2015 data from the International Energy Agency.

This underscores the need to make people in Singapore aware that their actions can make a difference.

Climate change strategies are two-pronged.

Apart from initiatives aimed at reducing Singapore's greenhouse gas emissions, measures to protect the island-state against the effects of climate change - such as rising sea levels - have also been trickling into public policy.

A Coastal Adaptation Study by the Building and Construction Authority, which is expected to conclude by the second half of next year, will make long-term recommendations on how to better protect Singapore's coastal areas.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has also commissioned a study to determine how much fish can be sustainably reared in the farms off Singapore's northern coast, hit numerous times by algae blooms that are occurring more frequently due to climate change.

This study is expected to conclude by August next year.

Singapore has been building up its policies and knowledge base to help it deal with climate change.

But that is the easy part.

Next year will be a game changer as Singapore seeks to tackle climate change on a different front: changing mindsets.