Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, for the GCNS Virtual Summit on Thursday, 15 October 2020
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 A very good morning to all. I thank Global Compact Network Singapore for organising this virtual Summit, and for inviting me to join you.
DECADE FOR DECISIVE ACTION
2 Our generation is facing challenges on multiple fronts. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impact on our lives, and led to loss of jobs and income. The Government has set aside close to $100 billion for COVID-19 support packages for our people and businesses, and we intend to spend another $8 billion to save jobs, create new ones and seize new growth opportunities.
3 Even as we do this, however, we need to push on in our fight against climate change, which will be the crisis of many generations. Last month, the World Meteorological Organisation, a United Nations agency, reported that global warming could exceed the key threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius by 2024 ― far sooner than scientists had earlier predicted. I am sure many of you would have been alarmed by the dramatic photo of an ice block, larger than the size of Paris, breaking off from Greenland’s glacier. Unless global carbon greenhouse gas emissions drop sharply this decade, there will be little chance of limiting warming to safer limits.
4 As we recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt, and incorporate them in our way forward. This will enable us to emerge from this crisis stronger, and build the Singapore we want for our future generations. As GCNS puts it, this is the “Decade for Decisive Action”.
5 The Government will push for a green recovery, to support a competitive transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. We are putting in place energy efficiency schemes to help our companies transform to be best-in-class globally in energy and carbon efficiency. We are also partnering the industry and our research community to study the feasibility of low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), and use of low-carbon hydrogen. We will continue to work with industry stakeholders to maximise solar deployment on the rooftops of private industrial and commercial buildings to meet our solar target of at least 2 GWp by 2030.
6 We will continue to invest in climate science, to enable the development of meaningful solutions to tackle climate change. We have launched a $10 million National Sea Level Research Programme to develop more robust projections of rising sea levels, and we have set aside an initial funding of $5 billion for the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to protect Singapore against rising sea levels. By the end of this year, we will set up a Climate Science Research Programme Office to drive efforts to formulate Singapore’s national climate science research masterplan.
7 Climate change will affect access to critical resources, including water and food. We will strengthen our water and food security, by investing in weather-resilient sources, and producing more with less. We will work with industry and community partners to address our key waste streams and pursue circular economy approaches. New jobs and opportunities will be created for our people through these efforts.
IMPORTANCE OF COLLECTIVE ACTIONS
8 Climate change is a global challenge that requires collective action by everyone ― governments, businesses, civil society and individuals of all ages. Our youths, as leaders of today and tomorrow, play an important role in shaping the future not just for this generation, but the next. I am glad to see many youths rising to the challenge. I understand that the programme for the Youth Track at this Summit was conceptualised, planned and implemented by the Youth Organising Committee.
9 Youths can be powerful agents of change. Let me share three ways you can make a difference. First, you can reduce your individual impact on the environment by consciously looking at what you are purchasing and consuming each day. Find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Order only what you can finish eating, to help reduce food waste. Bring your own bag the next time you go shopping, to reduce the use of disposable bags. Recycle your electronic products instead of throwing them in the bin. Our individual actions may seem insignificant, but the sum of our individual actions can make a difference.
10 Second, influence those around you to do the same. Many youths are stepping up to organise movements and initiate projects to rally people to be part of the solution. Singapore Youth for Climate Action, for example, recently produced a citizens’ guide to disposing e-waste in Singapore. Zero Waste Singapore, a youth-led non-governmental organisation, drives the Bring Your Own (or BYO) Singapore movement, which works with retailers to offer incentives to customers to bring their own reusable bags, bottles and containers. I am encouraged by their passion, and others like them. The recipients of the Young Leaders SDG Awards have also embarked on very interesting projects. I look forward to meeting them later.
11 Third, learn from one another. There are youths from different ASEAN countries in the audience today. Each of our countries has our own national priorities and circumstances, but there is much we can learn from one another in our common pursuit of sustainability. I hope everyone will be generous in sharing your unique experiences and perspectives in this summit.
12 Let me conclude. The road to recovery and sustainability may be long, but I believe we can overcome the challenges if we work together as one united people and stay the course.