Mr Sherman Kwek,
Officer of City Developments Limited
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning. We are here today to mark a significant event
– the official launch of the Year of Climate Action for Singapore. I am happy to see such a big gathering – from ambassadors
to corporate chiefs, trade association representatives, school principals, NGOs
and the media.
Why Year of Climate Action?
2. Why did Singapore
designate 2018 our Year of Climate Action?
Climate change is an important issue affecting Singapore and the
international community. Our world is
warming at an unprecedented rate, caused by the excessive emission of
greenhouse gases, in particular, carbon dioxide, primarily from the burning of
fossil fuels. Climate
change poses an existential threat. The
impact of rising sea levels, and weather extremes such as droughts and flash
floods caused by intense rainfall, can have devastating consequences for lives
and livelihoods. Singapore is already feeling the impact. 2017 was our warmest year on record that was
not influenced by an El Niño event.
3. Consciously or otherwise,
our journey to fight climate change is well embedded throughout our development
policies: in our care for the
environment, greening, public transport and even by putting funds to half the
energy needed to produce desalinated water.
4. We feel however, it
is as important to raise the level of national consciousness around the need to
take individual and collective action to fight climate change for a sustainable
Singapore. Because the government cannot
do it alone. This is a year when we will
join forces with all of you here, plus many other parties across Singapore and
beyond, to rally everybody to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and
fight climate change. Our vision is to ensure
Singapore’s sustainability and make Singapore the best liveable city for our
citizens and visitors.
5. Recently, UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres identified the fight against climate change
as one of the top priorities for the UN and international community. And next year, the UN Sec-Gen is convening a
climate summit to mobilise the international community for more ambitious
emissions reductions and climate change adaptation. We welcome the Secretary-General’s commitment
to the global fight against climate change.
6. Internationally, there
is an urgent need for all countries to work together to fulfil the goals and
commitments of the Paris Agreement. Although
Singapore contributes a minuscule percent, we will do our part as a responsible
global citizen to reduce our carbon emissions. Our Climate Action Year also supports the 2030
Development Agenda, and we are working with countries around the world to build
capacity and help them achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, SDG 13 calls for urgent climate
action to combat climate change and its impacts. Taking climate action as part of the
international community’s concerted effort to fight global warming is both our
moral obligation and commitment to ensure that future generations can inherit a
Taking Climate Action
7. Singapore has long-term
plans to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change. We are strengthening our resilience and
adaptive capacity, and integrating climate change measures into our policies,
strategies and planning. These include significant
investments in infrastructure, such as raising the height of coastal roads,
building seawalls, widening drains and erecting flood barriers.
8. Even if we had
done much in the past to build a sustainable Singapore, we will do even more. We have invested in solar energy. We continue to encourage green buildings with
more stringent standards. We have frozen
the growth of the car population and expanded public transport. We are funding R&D for low carbon
technology. This year, we will be
passing legislation to introduce a carbon tax from 2019. The carbon tax is part of our wide-ranging
suite of climate mitigation measures. It
the price signal to catalyse economy-wide behavioural changes to prepare our businesses
to be more energy and carbon efficient.
This will help enhance the
competitiveness of our industries, and transition our economy to a low-carbon future. Not only do
we want to make Singapore the best liveable city, we also want Singapore to
remain the best choice when companies decide where to place their business
because of our successful climate action policy and active citizenry.
Initiatives from 3P
9. At the same time,
we should focus on what the individual, the organisation and the community can
do. Everyone has a part to play. Many of you have come forward to express your
strong support for the Year of Climate Action and what you plan to do. Let me share a few examples.
10. CDL recently launched
a sustainability blueprint – ‘CDL Future Value 2030’, which sets out key
climate action goals and targets contributing to more than half of the
Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. CDL
also worked with DBS to launch its ‘Green Bond’, connecting green building with
11. Global Compact
Network Singapore (GCNS), the sustainability arm of the Singapore Business
Federation (SBF), is helping the business community, particularly SMEs, to take
action to be more climate friendly and environmentally responsible. It
is developing a “Climate and Business 101” seminar to help companies build
capacity to manage their resources more efficiently, and champion climate
action in their operations. I believe
SMEs will find it beneficial to learn how to invest in green business practices
and ready themselves for a low carbon future economy.
Industries is developing a carbon emissions intensity reduction target, which will
focus on ambitious plans to reduce emissions intensity, and manage the impact
of its businesses on the environment. This
includes having a diversified energy generation portfolio of thermal and
renewable energy assets.
13. SingTel has clear
carbon reduction targets and is committed to transparent disclosure of its
climate-related risks. It has partnered SingPost
to add more options for a nationwide electronic waste recycling programme. The public may dispose of their e-waste at ReCYCLE
bins or by mailing them through any post box, with waiver of postage cost.
14. Schools have always
been passionate champions for climate action. Youths and children readily embrace the call
to action because they see the impact of global warming to the environment and
damage to wildlife. Anchor Green Primary
School has been infusing climate action content in its school curriculum and
website. They also have a long-term
partnership with IKEA Tampines to campaign for a sustainable living environment;
projects include converting recycled fabric into bookmarks which are sold to
help needy pupils. Jurong Junior College
will be organising the Love Fiesta 2018 where students will act as
environmental ambassadors to encourage the schools and community in the Jurong
district to adopt green practices.
15. I will be
visiting Bukit View Secondary School to see their JOULES (Junior OUtstanding
Leaders in Energy for Sustainability) Smart Centre. This is a learning platform showcasing and
educating students on the functionalities of green products contributed by
companies. Students have this innovative
green space to get inspiration for design and project work.
16. The Singapore
Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) members produced a new year video to energise
the ground on climate action and organised a forum discussion with the green
groups in Singapore to synergise their climate action efforts. An idea that came out from the discussion was
People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze)’s initiative of a “Social Change
Toolkit” which aims to empower advocates to address underlying systemic causes
of climate change and to drive individuals towards a more sustainable Singapore.
17. Individuals are playing
their part for climate action too. Ms
Pamela Low, from the SYCA, started a project, Tingkat Heroes, to encourage
schools and youths to go disposables-free and tackle food waste.
18. I hope to see
more of such ground-up initiatives throughout this year and beyond.
Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change
19. As the ASEAN
Chair this year, we look forward to leading discussions on climate action. We intend to raise awareness on the need for
climate action at several key events. In July, we
will organise the Singapore International Water Week, CleanEnviro Summit
Singapore, World Cities Summit, and the Partners for the Environment forum, a
week-long event to drive the conversation on sustainable development. In conjunction with this, Singapore will host
a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change on 10th July. This will be an important meeting for ASEAN to
show leadership on climate action. We
will also hold a back-to-back expanded meeting between ASEAN and Ministers from
China, Japan, ROK and the UNFCCC COP current President and President-designate
Fiji and Poland. It will send a strong
signal internationally that we in Asia remain fully committed to the Paris
Agreement and will take collective action to tackle climate change.
Launch of Climate Action Pledge & Logo
20. To signify the
official beginning of our rallying together for climate action, I am happy to
launch the Climate Action Pledge. By making a pledge, we
make a public declaration of our readiness to take climate action and be
counted as a positive influence to inspire others to do likewise.
21. We have received
more than 200 pledges from individuals and organisations to date. I want to encourage everyone here to make a
pledge, if you have not already done so. It is a good positive action and will help us
push forward collectively during this Year of Climate Action.
22. We have set up a
Action SG blog to keep the
public up-to-date on all climate-related matters in Singapore. This blog will be a community-run effort and I
hope all of you can contribute and share your climate action stories, articles,
events and photos with us on this site.
23. I also encourage
all of you to use the Climate Action Logo to brand your sustainability
activities and events. The “red dot” in
the logo references Singapore as a small country amongst the global family of nations;
while the iconic Singapore skyline forms a strong base, and shows that everyone
has a part to play in Climate Action. Taking
climate action will help to preserve a Sustainable Singapore. Please use the hashtag #ClimateActionSG for your
social media posts – to help raise awareness on this call to action.
24. Let me conclude by
sharing a story with you. There was a
king who loved the game of chess so much that he granted its inventor any
reward he desired. The inventor requested
for rice, for the king to place one grain on the first square of a chessboard,
double the amount on the second square, and so on, with each square containing
double the amount of rice on the previous square until all 64 squares on the
chessboard was filled. Thinking that it would
just be a small amount, the king agreed. As we all can guess, the amount of rice added
up to an astronomical sum, far beyond what the king expected.
25. Likewise, our efforts
can multiply like the grains on the chessboard if all of us were to influence
and encourage others to take climate action. We want to make Singapore the best liveable
city to live and do business. This is
our vision. The government cannot do it
alone. Together we can help build a
Sustainable Singapore. And from
Singapore, to ASEAN, to Asia and the world, we want to work together as one
global community to ensure that our planet remains liveable for generations to
26. I thank CDL for
co-organising this event with my Ministry, and for graciously hosting us at
this beautiful Singapore Sustainability Academy. I also thank all of you for attending this morning’s
event and supporting our Year of Climate Action.