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‘Time is running out’: Tackling climate change a priority for Singapore, says Masagos

‘Time is running out’: Tackling climate change a priority for Singapore, says Masagos

People walk with umbrellas under the hot sun in Singapore. (Photo: Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Facing the “loud and unmistakable” warning of climate change, Singapore needs to act, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Jul 17). 

Speaking at the 2019 Partners for the Environment forum, Mr Masagos stressed that tackling climate change is a “pressing priority” and an “existential challenge” for Singapore.

“Time is running out,” he said. “Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued one of the starkest warnings from the scientific community – an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in global warming could occur as early as 2030.

“The warning is loud and unmistakable: We must act now or we may well face the ultimate threat to human survival ... the end of ‘life as usual’.”

Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli speaking at MEWR's 2019 Partners for the Environment forum. (Photo: Matthew Mohan)

READ: Preparing against ‘the perfect storm’: Singapore to spend S$400 million upgrading and maintaining drains

READ: Singapore, KL among major cities to face 'unprecedented' climate shifts by 2050

Citing floods and mudslides in Japan as well as the heatwave in Europe, Mr Masagos said extreme weather events are “not one-off events, but symptoms of a much greater problem”.

“When I was growing up in the 60s, the hottest month in Singapore was about 27 degrees Celsius on average,” he added. “That is now the average temperature of the coolest months in this decade, and our hottest days exceed 34 degrees.

“What climate science is piecing together, foretells the calamity that will befall the world if we all do too little too late.”

READ: Singapore opens first seed bank to protect regional plant diversity against climate change


The Government will set up a new climate science unit next year to spearhead Singapore’s climate science master plan as well as strengthen the country’s capabilities in climate science research, Mr Masagos said.

The unit will focus on research into rising sea levels and other key areas of climate science with "significant impact on Singapore". These include the impact of climate change on Singapore’s water resources and flood management; the impact of warming trends on health and the energy sector; biodiversity and food security. 

It will also collaborate with institutes of higher learning and research institutes.

READ: Global warming to slash equivalent of 80 million jobs by 2030: UN

The unit will be set up under the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS), which was established in 2013 under the Meteorological Service Singapore to develop research expertise in the weather and climate of Singapore and Southeast Asia.

CCRS will also launch a S$10 million National Sea Level Research Programme over the next five years, in order to better understand sea levels around Singapore and develop more robust sea level projections. 

 It will issue grant calls to local research institutes to seek project proposals next month. 

“Climate change sets us a monumental, inter-generational task - how to ensure that our little red dot does not disappear below the waves,” said Mr Masagos. “Climate science tells us it is not a matter of ‘if’ the sea level will rise but a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how much’.”

Source: CNA/jt


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