NEW YORK: Member states of the United Nations need to redouble their efforts to mitigate climate change, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Sep 23), calling climate change the “ultimate global commons challenge”.
“As leaders, we all have the responsibility to do our part to rally our people’s support for sustainable development; to convince and educate our people that these efforts are important, and to safeguard our future, and the futures of our children and grandchildren,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee was speaking at the UN secretary-general’s Climate Action Summit - where governments shared plans and examples of how they are cutting emissions and boosting resilience to the impact of climate change.
He is in New York on a week-long working visit where he is to meet US President Donald Trump and will receive the 2019 World Statesman Award.
“The consequences of climate change are catastrophic and affect all countries. New diseases, more extreme weather events, food shortages, forced migration and even wars,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee said Singapore will not be able to stop climate change on its own, however hard the country tries.
As such, Singapore is cooperating with other countries through initiatives such as the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility, with the support of Japan and the World Bank.
The facility provides flood risk-pooling for the region, and the risk pool is meant to provide immediate liquidity to cover emergency response costs in the aftermath of regional catastrophes.
Singapore has also contributed S$5 million to the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre, based in Singapore, for a five-year regional capacity development programme for Southeast Asia.
The programme aims share technical knowledge and skills in weather and climate prediction, to help the region better adapt its policies to climate change.
Apart from these steps, Singapore has also played its part by switching to a cleaner fuel mix, and deploying cleaner energy solutions, Mr Lee said.
For instance, Singapore has implemented a carbon tax set at a rate of S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 to 2023.
The country will review the carbon tax rate by 2023, with plans to increase it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
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The country is also installing large-scale solar panels that float in its reservoirs and off its shores.
“Being small and highly urbanised, we are disadvantaged in terms of alternative energy, but we are developing creative solutions within our constraints,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee’s comments at the summit come after he spoke at the National Day Rally about the “50 to 100-year problem” of rising sea levels, an issue which could cost Singapore around S$100 billion or more to tackle. He had called climate change “one of the gravest challenges facing humankind”.