Students called on to reduce carbon footprint to fight climate change

Straits Times 20 Apr 18;

Schools and young people are being pushed to reduce their carbon footprint this year as part of the Year of Climate Action in Singapore.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, called on students to recycle waste and reduce consumption on Youth for the Environment Day on Friday (April 20), held at ITE College Central.

"Climate change affects Singapore very badly," he said. "In about 80 years from now, scientists have predicted that in Singapore, the sea levels will rise by at least one metre."

Among things students could do were switching off electrical appliances when not in use and buying only the items they needed.

During the event, Mr Masagos and a panel of five secondary school students discussed how young Singaporeans could take action to fight climate change. All five were leaders of the environmental clubs in their respective schools.

The students voiced concerns that while teenagers knew about the impact of climate change, many were reluctant to do much about it as it would affect their daily lives.

For instance, recycling waste at home would mean they had to separate food waste from other types of waste like paper - which some considered a hassle.

They also discussed their schools' environmental initiatives. For example, Dunman High School's Gan Rui Yi mentioned that students there collected discarded orange peel to turn into detergent, while Lim Yang Zhi from River Valley High School spoke on a schoolwide bingo event to get students involved in environmentally-friendly efforts like using their own containers for takeout food and setting the air-conditioner temperature to 25 degree Celsius , held this week to commemorate Earth Day.

Yang Zhi, also the president of his school's Eco-Sustainability Leadership Academy, said that an area he felt could be improved in his school was electricity usage.

"In our tutorial rooms, we lower the temperature of the air-conditioner because it's too hot. But after we do that, we wear our jackets," he said.

Some 239 student leaders from 77 participating primary and secondary schools participated.

Separately, the National Environment Agency also launched the Climate Action Challenge, in which schools are encouraged to send creative photos or video submissions demonstrating how climate action can be part of their students' daily lives in terms of practising the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - and using electricity efficiently.

Schools also received a guide to conducting climate action-related activities.