Parliament Q&A

Written reply by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on Climate Change on 2 September 2019

TOPICS: Climate Change

Question by Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether Singapore can be a thought-and-industry leader in how to tackle the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels; and (b) if polders are a solution for Singapore, how can the spaces above the polders be used as work, live and play spaces.

Answer by Minister:

1      Climate change brings new and existential threats to our country. We are already experiencing impacts such as warmer temperatures, more intense rainfall and prolonged dry spells. Sea-level rise, in particular, poses significant challenges to our city state. Just like how we have tackled our other existential challenges in the past, we are planning decades ahead to overcome the effects of climate change. Building on our ‘water story’ of resilience and innovation, we will seek to turn constraint into strategic advantage for Singapore.

2      We must first ensure that our adaptation planning is based on robust science. We have made an early start, with the setting up of the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) in 2013 to build up knowledge and capabilities in climate science. CCRS is one of the few dedicated climate research centres in Asia Pacific focusing on research in tropical weather and climate. CCRS works closely with our neighbours to study in detail how climate change is affecting Southeast Asia and actively organises programmes to build regional capability in understanding climate science. To deepen our understanding of sea levels around Singapore, CCRS will be launching a $10 million National Sea Level Research Programme (NSLP) over the next five years. We will continue to develop CCRS to be a leading research centre in tropical weather and climate research in the region.

3      Sound climate science will guide us in developing robust solutions to tackle the effects of climate change. This includes learning from other countries and adapting relevant approaches and technologies to our needs. For example, learning from the Dutch, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has embarked on Singapore’s pilot polder project at Pulau Tekong, which when completed, will be used for military training. We are closely monitoring the implementation of this pilot. The lessons drawn will guide agencies on the feasibility and approach to implementing polders as a coastal protection option.

4      As a small island city state with limited resources, we face unique challenges but can turn these challenges into new opportunities and growth areas. We are working closely with industry and academic partners to develop innovative technologies and resource-efficient solutions that not only address our local challenges, but can also be applicable to other urban centres.

5      Finally, even though we contribute only 0.11% of global emissions, we must continue to do our part. Singapore has adopted forward-looking domestic mitigation measures, including early actions such as implementing a carbon tax; improving industrial energy efficiency; increasing adoption of solar energy; growing our public transport network; and adopting a circular economy approach to resource management. But the Government cannot do this alone – everyone must play his or her part. Only then can we be a credible partner in contributing to and shaping global agreements on climate change; and importantly, our collective efforts will ensure that we pass on a liveable and sustainable Singapore to future generations.

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