SINGAPORE: Should Singapore claim or contribute to a fund to help poor countries hit by climate disasters?
Singapore's position remains open, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu in Parliament on Friday (Apr 21) while debating the issue with MP Leon Perera (WP-Aljunied).
In a parliamentary question, Mr Perera had asked why Singapore was a potential claimant from the Loss and Damage Fund set up at the COP27 climate summit, in view that many other potential claimant countries from this fund have much lower levels of GDP per capita and income than Singapore does.
Ms Fu noted that she had answered a similar question in February, when she had explained that small island states like Singapore are disproportionately affected by sea level rise and are at risk of being submerged by century’s end, if nothing is done to prevent it.
Thus, as part of the Alliance of Small Island States, along with other developing countries, Singapore has long called for the establishment of a Loss and Damage fund.
A transitional committee has been tasked to make recommendations by COP28 on the details of the fund, and Singapore will engage constructively with the committee, she had said.
"A key guiding principle is that countries that have caused and are most responsible for climate change must take the lead in supporting vulnerable communities to avert, minimise and address climate-related loss and damage," Ms Fu said on Feb 24.
"The Paris Agreement, which was ratified by more than 190 countries, including Singapore, also reaffirms this obligation of developed countries to mobilise climate finance for developing countries."
Mr Perera further asked whether the Singapore government would consider being a donor rather than a claimant given its status as a developed country.
Ms Fu's reply is that parties have not reached an understanding on what the fund entails and Singapore has not had a chance to discuss this internationally, so the matter is undecided.
"Our position is open and this is part of negotiation at the international level so we will take consideration of all views - Singaporeans as well as the needs of the international community as we enter the discussion," she said.
Ms Fu then asked Mr Perera for his position and the Workers' Party's position on this. She wanted to know if he supports contributing to the fund, what amounts he thinks Singapore should contribute and to which countries.
Mr Perera said that he won't speak for WP but gave his personal opinion.
"I don't have a figure, but I think we can take reference perhaps from other developed countries with a similar size of economy, of GDP as ours and use that as a reference point," he said.
These funds can be distributed in proportion to the needs and the resources of the developing countries, he added.
Ms Fu then asked to clarify whether Mr Perera was suggesting that Singapore move away from the Paris Agreement. But Mr Perera said that this was not the case and asked Ms Fu to explain why donating to the Loss and Damage Fund equates to deviating from the Paris Agreement.
"In the Paris Agreement, there is a clear definition of who the developing countries are and who the developed countries are," she said.
"We do not belong to the developed countries, so if the member is now suggesting that Singapore is a developed country and benchmarking the other developed countries, that is a deviation from the Paris Agreement."