Singapore vulnerable to rising sea level, severe floods: Masagos

Singapore vulnerable to rising sea level, severe floods: Masagos

Masagos COP24
Singapore's Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli speaks at COP24 in Poland. (Photo: MEWR)

SINGAPORE: Small island developing states such as Singapore are at risk of "dire consequences" if current warming trends continue, said Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

The minister was speaking at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP24) on Wednesday (Dec 12) in Katowice, Poland.

In delivering Singapore's national statement, Mr Masagos highlighted a recent UN report that warned that the global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius could be breached as early as 2030 if current warming trends continue.

"This will have dire consequences for many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDs). Singapore is one of these low lying island states that is vulnerable to sea level rise and severe floods from intense storms. Clearly, we need urgent, collective and coordinated efforts by all," Mr Masagos said.

As such, Mr Masagos said, the world must be united in advancing global climate action.

"At a time when multilateralism is being challenged, COP-24 will be a key test of the multilateral system to deliver an effective response to the climate change challenge. COP-24 must send a strong and unequivocal signal that the world is united in advancing global climate action," he said.

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Noting Singapore's commitment to tackling climate change, Mr Masagos said that despite being "a small city state with limited access to alternative sources of energy", the country will not allow "our constraints to be barriers to action".

"Singapore is fully committed to supporting global action on climate change, and not only because we are extremely vulnerable. It is because global action calls for everyone, big and small emitters, to come on board," Mr Masagos said.

"Even if the actions needed to address climate change are costly, and require resources to be channelled away from other competing needs, we deem them as necessary," he added,

The country has set an "ambitious" target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

YEAR OF CLIMATE ACTION 'A SUCCESS'

After Singapore declared 2018 as the "Year of Climate Action" at last year's edition of the conference in Bohn, the country received more than 300,000 climate pledges from all stakeholders, including those affected by the carbon tax.

In addition, more than 800 climate action events were held this year, involving non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

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The minister also highlighted the steps Singapore has taken to prepare its infrastructures for climate change, such as raising the height of coastal roads and new buildings, and enhancing drainage and flood managements systems.

He gave the example of the upcoming Changi Airport Terminal 5, which will be built at 5.5m above the sea.

To safeguard the country's food supply against "challenges caused by climate change", the Singapore Food Agency will be established from April 2019, he added.

Meanwhile, the government has just commissioned the Stamford Detention Tank - the size of 15 swimming pools, 10 storeys below ground - to address frequent flash floods along Orchard Road.

LEADERSHIP IN ASEAN AND BEYOND

Mr Masagos also highlighted Singapore's work "to make climate change a priority for the region" as the Chair of ASEAN and the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change.

He cited ASEAN's achievement in exceeding its energy efficiency target, reducing energy intensity by more than 20 per cent in 2016 compared to 2005 levels, well ahead of its 2020 target.

At the recently-concluded 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, ASEAN Leaders adopted the ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change.

Singapore also convened the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA), and the expanded SAMCA with China, Japan and South Korea.

The minister also mentioned the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, which Singapore launched as "a collaborative platform for cities in ASEAN to work towards the goal of smart and sustainable urban development."

Singapore was also one of the first 55 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Source: CNA/jt

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