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Sustainability

S$23.5 million programme launched to better understand long-term impact of climate change on Singapore

03:06 Min
Singapore has launched a S$23.5 million programme to examine the long-term impact of climate change on the island. The programme will fund studies to evaluate climate risks and their implications. Melissa Goh reports.

SINGAPORE: A S$23.5 million programme to better understand the long-term impact of climate change on Singapore has been launched by the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS). 

The programme, titled the Climate Impact Science Research Programme, will focus on five key areas: Sea level rise; water resource and flood management; biodiversity and food security; human health and energy; and cross-cutting research to bridge science-policy translation.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu announced the launch in her speech on Tuesday (Jul 12) at the World Climate Research Programme’s Sea Level 2022 Conference. 

She said the programme would "bring together research in climate impact science".

"By downscaling global climate projections and producing localised, high-resolution models of wind, rainfall, and temperature, we can better assess the impacts of climate change on local crop and aquaculture yields," she added.

"We could also evaluate the indirect impact of higher temperatures through the increased prevalence of pests and diseases. This would in turn allow us to strengthen our food resilience, be it through the development of climate-resilient crop varieties or choosing sea spaces with more suitable habitat conditions for aquaculture."

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The centre, under the National Environment Agency (NEA), launched the programme that will be funded under Singapore's Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports show that climate change has increased the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. This impacts economies and the security of essential resources such as water, food, and energy, said NEA.

"Singapore, as a highly urbanised, densely populated, and low-lying country, which is reliant on international trade, is vulnerable to these effects," said the agency.

"While mitigation action remains a key focus of our contribution against climate change, equal importance must be placed on climate adaptation, informed by the latest climate science."

NEA said policies must be based on evidence and draw on "robust, credible and objective scientific assessments". The programme aims to improve understanding of climate impact science in the five key areas.

On sea level rise, results from scientific assessments could help evaluate the risks of coastal floods and the adequacy of protection measures.

Rising sea levels, coupled with extreme tides and surges, could post a long-term existential threat to Singapore.

Extreme weather events, such as droughts or intense rain, would also affect Singapore's water resource and flood management practices.

"For example, studies on the impact of water runoff from increased precipitation can help us better plan our flood mitigation measures, such as local detention tanks and right-sizing of our drainage network," said NEA.

The country's biodiversity and food security will also be impacted by such extreme weather events, affecting local and regional crop yield and supply chains.

A better understanding of climate extremes can help Singapore to understand the impact on local food supply and key food imports. The country currently imports about 90 per cent of its food.

Future warming may also exacerbate the urban heat island effect, causing energy demand surges, said NEA. An increase in the threat of vector-borne diseases could also impact health.

"Understanding such implications of climate change could help enhance public sector planning and decision-making under future warming scenarios," the agency added.

"Science-policy translation is also needed to allow agencies to make sense of projected climate change risks, in order to plan effective interventions."

Professor Dale Barker, director of the CCRS, said: "Preliminary findings from the National Sea Level Programme (NSLP), launched by CCRS in 2020, have shed light on the uncertainty of probable sea levels in Singapore.

"We hope that research outcomes from the CISR Programme will help to provide a more accurate understanding of climate impact science to provide a firm foundation for downstream policy and infrastructure implementation." 

The centre welcomes proposals from public and private entities, research institutes and institutes of higher learning, NEA said.

Source: CNA/rj(mi)

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