SINGAPORE: History will judge the Paris Agreement not just by how many countries signed it or how quickly it entered into force, but also how effectively countries implement it, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Nov 16).
The Paris accord, sealed late last year in the French capital, commits countries to make plans to keep global warming "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial levels to try to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Speaking at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22), Mr Masagos said that the agreement entering into force less than a year after it was adopted was "testament to the fact that with strong political will, countries can set their differences aside and work towards a common global imperative".
"We must now prove that we can, individually and collectively, take actions to achieve the aims of this agreement," he said. "We must now roll up our sleeves and make it happen."
Singapore was one of the first 55 countries to ratify the agreement on Sep 21 and is "proud to have contributed to the agreement's early entry into force", the Minister said.
He urged more countries to ratify the agreement as "a strong global response to climate change requires universal participation".
In the meantime, Mr Masagos said that the next priority would be to develop the rulebook for the Paris deal with a "cooperative and pragmatic spirit".
There have been clashes between parties in the negotiation of the agreement, including Australia and New Zealand blocking a bid from low-lying Pacific island nations for a tougher global target and disagreements between France and the US on whether the deal should be legally binding.
Mr Masagos said that while developing the rulebook for the Paris accord, "it is imperative that parties look forward and not backwards".
"We need to move on together and avoid renegotiating resolved issues that will only divide us," he added.
SINGAPORE "ON TRACK" TO MEET PRE-2020 PLEDGE
The Environment and Water Resources Minister said at the conference that Singapore was "on track" to meet its pre-2020 pledge under the agreement, according to the climate action plan it released in July.
For example, to reduce emissions from power generation, Singapore aims to raise the adoption of solar power in its system to 350 Mega Watt peak by 2020, an 18 times increase as compared to 2014.
"We are also undertaking various actions to enhance our resilience to climate change. For example, the future Changi Airport Terminal 5 will be built 5.5m above the mean sea level," Mr Masagos said.
"As a small city-state, Singapore needs to plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the context of our unique constraints of land, energy and water. Notwithstanding these constraints, we will do our part as a responsible member of the international community," he added.
Singapore was one of 170 countries to welcome the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of hydroflorocarbons, a category of dangerous greenhouse gases widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners, last month.
The country will be submitting its second biennial update report on its efforts to fulfill its pre-2020 pledge under the agreement in December this year, according to Mr Masagos.