Singapore has vested interest in strong result at climate talks, says Masagos

Masagos says Republic faces disproportionate risks from negative impacts of climate change
Audrey Tan Straits Times 10 Dec 18;

Singapore's emissions make up just 0.11 per cent of the global total, but as a small island city-state, it faces disproportionate risks from the negative impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels.

That is why Singapore has a "deep and vested interest to see a strong outcome at COP24", said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, referring to the ongoing United Nations climate change talks in Poland.

Added Mr Masagos, who arrives in Katowice today for the second week of the conference: "At a time when multilateralism is being challenged, a strong outcome in Katowice will show that the global community is united in its support for a multilateral, rules-based approach to addressing climate change."

During the event, Mr Masagos will deliver Singapore's national statement, attend various high-level events and hold meetings with other key personalities in attendance, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said yesterday.

During COP24, almost 200 nations will be negotiating on how to limit global warming to well below 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels - a target set out in the Paris Agreement. While the agreement provided a skeletal framework, this year's meeting aims to flesh out the Paris rule book which will lay out paths for countries to achieve their climate targets.

A few sticking points have emerged, such as the issue of differentiation - whether obligations between developed and developing countries should be different due to varying capabilities.

Currently, developed and developing countries have different transparency mechanisms for the measurement, reporting and verification of emissions data.

But under the Paris Agreement, all parties could be subject to the same requirements, with developing countries getting the necessary support, in terms of finance and additional time, for example.

"Singapore sees the universal and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement as key to maintaining support for global action on climate change," said a ministry spokesman, adding that the key is to allow developing countries to start where they can and allow them to improve over time.

To this end, Singapore sees one indicator of success for COP24 as being the delivery of a package of decisions "that will provide adequate support to developing countries, particularly small-island developing states and the least developed countries, to implement the Paris Agreement", the ministry said.

Ms Melissa Low, a research fellow from the National University of Singapore who is taking part in COP24, said issues relating to transparency, and the measurement, reporting and verification of emissions data would affect the way Singapore reports its progress on achieving its targets. If Singapore's carbon tax, which is designed as a fixed-price credit-based system, eventually evolves and is linked to other carbon markets, Singapore will likely need to report on how this contributes to its targets, she added.

Changes in the way emissions data is reported could also have an impact on Singapore, said Ms Low. "If the reporting guidelines are stricter than they are currently, this will have policy and administrative cost implications on the government agencies collecting the data and putting together the reports."

Other than the carbon tax announced in this year's Budget, Singapore has also rolled out other initiatives, including over 800 climate-related activities to raise public awareness. In July, Singapore also hosted a meeting among Asean countries to discuss climate change.

To build on the strong ground-up support and momentum created over the year, which is Singapore's Year of Climate Action, the spokesman said it will be organising a Climate Action Week next year.