SINGAPORE: A new Coastal and Flood Protection fund with an initial injection of S$5 billion by the Government will be set up as Singapore prepares to deal with the “significant’ risk of rising sea levels, announced Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 18).
The fund will be topped up whenever Singapore’s fiscal situation allows for it, added Mr Heng.
“(The Prime Minister) mentioned at the National Day Rally last year that climate change adaption might cost S$100 billion or more over 100 years,” said Mr Heng. “This is a major fiscal outlay in the coming years – so it is right and prudent that we set aside resources for this.”
READ: NDR 2019: It could cost S$100 billion or more to protect Singapore against rising sea levels, PM Lee says
“We must have the resolve to deal head-on with the existential threat of rising sea levels,” explained Mr Heng. “Just as our pioneers planted the trees for us to enjoy today, we must protect our island for future generations to come.”
The Minister for Environment and Water Resources will also elaborate on immediate plans to prepare Singapore for rising sea levels at the Committee of Supply debate, Mr Heng added.
“I spoke about how we are committing to global efforts, managing our carbon constraints, and building a sustainable Singapore, together. We must try hard and we will do our part,” Mr Heng said. “But the course of climate change depends on the commitment of all nations. The risk of rising sea levels remains significant. So our fourth strategic thrust is to prepare our island for rising sea levels.”
FOSTERING "A CLIMATE OF CHANGE"
While the Government is doing its part to tackle climate change, there is a need to foster “a climate of change” among Singaporeans, said Mr Heng.
“To deal with climate change, we have to foster a climate of change in our community – where everyone, whether as an individual, as a business leader, or as a community leader, makes conscious decisions to lower our carbon footprint,” he said.
One such decision is the choice of household appliances, explained Mr Heng, and the Government will introduce incentives to help lower-income households with the cost of purchasing energy-efficient appliances.
Outside homes, there have also been plans to add more greenery to HDB estates, and new housing developments will have around 45 to 60 per cent green cover, said Mr Heng.
“Residents are contributing through the community garden movement. Today, more than 36,000 gardening enthusiasts are nurturing over 1,500 community gardens island-wide,” he said. “These gardens keep our shared neighbourhood vibrant, and bring people closer together.”
To make sustainable living a key feature of HDB estates, there are plans to introduce a new HDB Green Towns programme, added Mr Heng. It will have three key focus areas, namely, reducing energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns.