SINGAPORE: Despite the haze, activists turned out in full force at Hong Lim Park for Singapore's first climate rally on Saturday (Sep 21).
The rally, which started at 3pm, saw more than 1,700 participants by 6pm, organisers said.
Participants, most of them youths, were decked in red for the event, organised by The Singapore Climate Rally, a non-profit organisation.
The rally, with the same name as its organisers, coincided with the global climate change youth movement started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.
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The movement has sparked many similar rallies around the world.
At the Singapore event, participants came bearing posters with slogans like "Don't burn my future" and "O-Levels are soon, so is this irreversible climate crisis".
There were also community activities such as writing postcards to Members of Parliament calling for government action.
The rally called for systemic change from the Government as well as corporations on the basis that individual efforts were not sufficient.
In his National Day Rally last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed threats of climate change such as rising sea levels and estimated the Government would spend S$100 billion in the long term to protect the country.
But the organisation said it wished to see more preventive rather than adaptive measures being taken.
Co-founder Komal Lad, 19, said that the current rate for Singapore's carbon tax was not high enough.
Although she anticipates it to increase by S$10 per tonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, she said "it is not enough to make a dent and not enough to pressure businesses to seek renewable resources".
The current carbon tax is set at a rate of S$5 per tonne of GHG emissions from 2019 to 2023.
Apart from increasing carbon taxes, Ms Komal said she also wanted companies to divest from fossil fuels.
Rising awareness in recent years could be due to how the effects of climate change are more strongly felt with the increasing temperatures, she added.
Social media has also contributed to increased awareness and the volume of news about weather catastrophes in other countries has also resulted in greater "climate-consciousness", said Ms Komal.
PARTICIPANTS STAGE "DIE-IN"
The event also saw a "die-in" - a move similar to a human chain domino that was a way for organisers and participants to show collective grief over the loss of biodiversity and human lives resulting from climate change.
Six poignant speeches were given as well from a diverse range of Singaporeans, who recounted their personal experiences with climate change.
Among them was Oliver Chua, a Primary 5 student from Temasek Primary School who described himself as a "typical 11-year-old".
"I feel that my friends are in that 'don't know, don't care' or 'I know but I don't know what to do' phases because we tend to take (things) for granted and we can't really comprehend the impact of climate change," he said.
He said schools could do more to expose students to the topic through classes solely dedicated to environmental issues.
Ms Komal said the rally was only the first step towards action against climate change and that it would not be the last time anyone would hear from the organisation.
“SG Climate Rally, we will definitely have something in time to come,” she said.