'Grave findings' in UN report highlight need for urgent global action against climate change: Amy Khor

'Grave findings' in UN report highlight need for urgent global action against climate change: Amy Khor

SINGAPORE: The "grave findings" of a major United Nations (UN) report point to the need for global action against climate change, said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources on Wednesday (Oct 23).

Speaking at a symposium at the Singapore Management University about sea level rise in Southeast Asia, Dr Khor called the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a "sobering" one, and stressed that Singapore remains committed to doing its part.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the UN, dedicated to providing an objective, scientific view of climate change.

Among other findings, the IPCC's special report on the oceans and cryosphere, which was published last month, found that sea levels are rising twice as fast as compared to the 20th century. Such rising sea levels have been accelerated due to increased ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, it noted.

The report also warned that by 2050, coastal megacities and small island nations could experience weather catastrophes every year, instead of once a century.

READ: Once-a-century weather catastrophes to occur at least once a year by 2050: UN report

Given the "existential threat" that rising sea levels pose to Singapore, it needs to implement an "island-wide approach" to deal with the issue, said Dr Khor.

"Singapore is a low-lying city; a third of our island is less 5m above sea level. And we are not alone. About two-thirds of Southeast Asia's population live in low-lying coastal areas," she added.

"However, unlike larger countries, we do not have hinterlands to retreat to. If nothing is done, rising sea levels will significantly impact not only our coastal landscape, but also our communities, our businesses, and our very way of life."

Based on different emission scenarios, sea levels in Singapore could rise between 0.29m to 1.02m by 2100, said the Centre for Climate Research Singapore's (CCRS) director Professor Erland Kallen. He was quoting findings from the second national climate change projections, which were released by the CCRS in 2015.

In the case of a "low probability, high impact" scenario, this could reach up to 2m by 2100.

READ: NDR 2019: It could cost S$100 billion or more to protect Singapore against rising sea levels, PM Lee says

Singapore has adopted a "three-pronged" strategy to tackle climate change, Dr Khor said. 

This involves building capabilities in climate science, taking steps to reduce carbon footprint while adapting to the impacts of climate change, and cooperating with countries in the region.

Said Dr Khor: "Given the scale and magnitude of climate change, it is not an issue that any country can tackle alone. However, the call for action is clear. 

"Singapore, as well as countries in the region, will need to work together to strengthen adaption planning capabilities and resolve challenges presented by climate change."

The symposium follows the IPCC Scoping Meeting for the Synthesis Report of the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) which was held in Singapore from Monday to Wednesday.

It saw 80 experts from 38 countries, as well as IPCC bureau members, come together to develop an outline for an upcoming report. The report, due for release in 2022, will provide countries with information to help develop their climate policies.

The AR6 meeting will be followed by the 57th Session of the IPCC Bureau, a meeting of one of the highest bodies in the organisational structure of the IPCC.

Source: CNA/mt