Speech by DPM Teo Chee Hean at the National Climate Change Competition Award Ceremony on 12 November 2013
Teachers and students
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning. I am happy to join all of you today at the award ceremony for the National Climate Change Competition 2013.
Impact of climate change on Singapore Climate change affects all countries. The recent Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis report by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found unequivocal signs of global warming compared to 1950. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, the sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased. The report also projected that there could be significant changes in rainfall patterns and the global sea-level could rise more quickly. Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. Currently, wet regions are expected to receive more rainfall, and dry regions less1.
In Singapore too, we have seen the effects of global warming. Our average temperature has increased 0.26°C per decade from 1951 to 2012. This is consistent with global trends2. The sea level around Singapore has also increased by 45mm over the past 15 years. Heavy storms have also become more frequent and intense over the past decades3.
The government is taking a proactive approach to climate change. For example, we use mostly natural gas for electricity generation, rather than fuel oil or coal to reduce our carbon emissions as well as particulate pollution. We encourage companies to adopt energy efficient technologies and processes. We require all new buildings and retrofitted buildings to receive Green Mark certification. Overall, we are on track to achieve our commitment of a 7 to 11 percent reduction from Business-As-Usual carbon emission levels in year 2020.
We are also implementing adaptation measures to reduce the impact of climate change. Since December 2011, we have raised the minimum level for new land reclamation projects by an additional 1 metre, up from the previous level of 1.25 metres above the highest recorded tide level. PUB is also implementing flood protection measures and continual drainage improvement in flood-prone areas to strengthen Singapore’s resilience against floods. A second National Climate Change Study is being conducted to obtain updated projections of temperature, rain, wind and sea level changes for Singapore, to ensure that our adaptation measures are based on the most updated information and forecasts.
Recently, Singapore was admitted as an observer into the Arctic Council. Our representative explained why we are interested in the Arctic - we are all interconnected. When global warming affects the ice caps in the Arctic, it affects us too as a small island on the Equator half a world away.
National Climate Change Competition 2013 But climate change actions must go beyond the Government. All of us can reduce our carbon footprint, and play a part to prepare for the climate challenges ahead. I have met many young Singaporeans who are passionate about the environment and are keen to make a difference. Their enthusiasm is amply demonstrated by the overwhelming number of young people who took part in this year’s competition. More than 700 participants had a hand in producing these short films that help to spread the message about climate change.
Many of you have pointed out through your videos that we often do not realise how some of our daily habits waste energy and lead to unnecessary carbon emissions. A student from the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science used the examples of a workaholic, a drama addict, and a hardcore gamer to encourage us to reflect on our energy-wasting actions. The video produced by the students from Farrer Park Primary School, tells the tale of climate change through the plight of polar bears and penguins, and reminds us that we can save these animals by switching off the lights when not in use.
Several teams have also provided practical examples of personal action that everyone can adopt. For example, the video submitted by ITE College East is a useful reminder of how we can develop good habits in conserving energy and water.
I am encouraged by your enthusiasm and creativity in expressing your concerns about climate change and what each of us can do about it. I hope that all your short films will encourage Singaporeans to adopt more climate-friendly habits. Please join me in congratulating all the winners of the National Climate Change Competition 2013.
Climate change outreach and education Besides the National Climate Change Competition, the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) has embarked on several new programmes to create greater awareness on climate change among young Singaporeans. In August this year, NCCS launched an educational drama Stop Melting My Home for primary schools. Through this interactive programme depicting the story of a polar bear whose home is melting, we hope that young students will see the consequences of human activities on our climate and inspire them to take action from an early age.
I am also happy to announce that there will be a new climate change exhibition at the Science Centre next year. The $3-million exhibition, undertaken by NCCS, the Science Centre Singapore and the Meteorological Service Singapore, will add to our climate change outreach and education efforts. Through fun and interactive displays, we hope that visitors to the exhibition will better understand the science behind the headlines, and be motivated to take pro-active steps to help combat climate change.
The exhibition will also highlight growth opportunities in areas such as climate science and the clean tech sector. As Singapore positions itself as a green growth hub, there will be exciting new options for Singaporeans to pursue studies and careers in these fields. You can be at the fore-front of climate change action, and play a part to develop solutions that benefit Singapore, and the rest of the world.
Conclusion Change starts with each one of us. By taking part in the National Climate Change Competition, you have already taken the first step as a change maker. I hope you will continue to do more to raise awareness about climate change, and make a difference through your own actions. Together, we can build a greener and better Singapore for ourselves, and future generations of Singaporeans.
1Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis”, 27 September 2013.
2Source: Meteorological Service Singapore
3National Climate Change Secretariat, “National Climate Change Strategy 2012”, June 2012.