SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE SCIENCE CENTRE’S CLIMATE CHANGED EXHIBITION ON 17 OCTOBER 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to join you for the launch of the Science Centre’s third installation of the Climate Change experience.
FROM CLIMATE CHANGE TO CLIMATE CHANGED
2 The title of this exhibition is Climate Changed. Indeed, climate has changed, and will change even more, if humanity continues “Business As Usual”. The global mean temperature has risen by more than one degree Celsius since industrialisation. One degree more may not seem much for us in the tropics – 32, to 33, not discernable. But one degree above freezing point will mean either freezing at snowcapped mountains, or melting of the snow, deluge, or mud slide. One degree more is no longer just a concept. It has caused tangible climatic changes and more extreme weather events around the world. While Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia were experiencing devastating floods, Europe, China, and Africa suffered from droughts and heatwaves this summer.
3 Singapore’s climate has similarly changed. We have become hotter, and wetter. Our mean temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius in the last four decades. In April this year, we experienced our second hottest day on record with the temperature reaching nearly 37 (actual 36.8) degrees Celsius at Admiralty. We are also facing more intense rainfall. Last year was our second wettest year since 1980, with some days experiencing an entire month’s average rainfall in one single day.
4 These extreme weather events will become more frequent. Beneath the average temperature rise of one degree Celsius, is the greater variability of temperatures – the highs are getting higher, and the lows lower. Based on the National Environment Agency’s Integrated Sustainability report released last month, we can expect warmer days and chillier nights. All these point to the need for urgent climate action.
THE ROLE OF SCIENCE IN CLIMATE ACTION
5 Science has played a crucial role in climate action. First, science helped us understand the greenhouse effect, and make the connection between human activities and global warming. Second, science enables us to predict the future. With science, we model and project the effects of climate change to determine what corrective actions are needed to change the course of global warming, as seen in the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Third, science forms the basis of technological innovations in developing solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation.
6 In Singapore, we are investing in scientific research to understand the effects of climate change on our country and the region. We launched the $23.5 million Climate Impact Science Research this September to study the long-term impact of climate change in sea level rise, waste resource and flood management, biodiversity and food security, human health, and energy. We are also undertaking cross-cutting research to bridge science-policy translation. Through these efforts, we hope to better project the impact and therefore prepare ourselves for climate change.
7 And we are applying science and engineering to develop innovative solutions to address our climate challenges. As a small island in the tropics, we have to deal with the twin problem of possibly having too much water and too little water. We constructed the Stamford Detention Tank and Stamford Diversion Canal to better prepare for stormwater surges and prevent flooding in low-lying areas during intense rainfall. We also strengthened our water supply resilience through technology advancements in NEWater production and seawater desalination.
8 To reach our net zero emission goal by or around mid-century, we will look to science for more solutions. The Government has committed $220 million under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 for research and development in resource circularity and water technologies. In the energy space, 12 projects on low-carbon energy technology solutions had been awarded $55 million under the Low-Carbon Energy Research (LCER) Funding Initiative to decarbonise the power and industry sectors. Beyond building our climate resilience, these investments will create new jobs, encourage spin-offs, and grow our green sector as we transit to a low-carbon economy.
DISTILLING CLIMATE SCIENCE TO ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS
9 Our green transition and climate adaptation will be a journey that spans generations. We will groom a pipeline of talent to understand climate change and to develop solutions in mitigation and adaptation. The MSE statutory boards offer the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship to nurture young talents in environmental resilience, and food and water security. The Public Service Division has also introduced a new category for sustainability under the Public Service Commission scholarship, which opened for applications last month.
10 With better understanding of the science, we must also bring about behavioral change in our drive for sustainability. The habit of sustainable living must start with us individuals. We contribute to emissions directly and indirectly through our daily habits and consumption. Science can help us make informed decisions on the changes needed and convince our people that our actions matter.
11 This is an area where our students and youths can play an active role, in communicating climate change. Science communicators such as Woo Qiyun, better known for her handle The Weird and Wild, and Kong Man Jing, or Bio Girl MJ from Just Keep Thinking, are helping to understand climate change by breaking down the complexity of the topic into bite-sized content. Apps such as SusGain and GreenScout are leveraging gamification and team challenges to encourage users to adopt habits such as using recyclables and taking public transport.
12 Since 2008, the Science Centre has been raising community awareness of climate change and climate action through the series of exhibition on Climate Change Experiences. The new exhibition comprises the segment “Guilt Trip”, which will gamify the experience to enhance understanding of climate change and sustainability through day-to-day scenarios. My thanks to Science Centre for your contribution to our sustainability movement.
13 Let me conclude. Science plays an important role in climate action. It helps us understand the causes of climate change, project its effects, and find solutions. It is imperative that we make the science of climate change accessible to Singaporeans, especially our youths, so that science will guide us to a better place, a planetary environment. On this note, I invite you to join us in making a Green Nation pledge at our Forward Singapore website, and commit to championing a green, liveable and climate-resilient Singapore. Do encourage your friends, families, and communities to do so too.
14 I thank the Science Centre for contributing your expertise in science and educational outreach to drive climate action. I look forward to visiting the exhibition.