Written reply by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on Climate Action Engagement on 7 October 2019

  • Oct 07, 2019
  • MEWR

Question by Miss Rahayu Mahzam: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in light of the recent Singapore Climate Rally (a) what are the Ministry's plans to engage the climate enthusiasts in novel ways to raise awareness of high levels of overconsumption, waste reduction and our carbon footprint; and (b) whether the Ministry will also consider leveraging on this movement and lead the efforts in the region.

Answer by Minister:

1.            Groups coming forward to raise awareness of, and taking action against climate change, is not a new development. More groups have come forward since Singapore designated 2018 as our Year of Climate Action to rally businesses, households and individuals to take collective action for a sustainable future. These include community groups, grassroots organisations, corporations, schools and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In fact, over 800 climate action-related events were initiated and organised by our partners during the year. We have also received more than 341,000 climate action pledges from individuals, organisations and educational institutions.

2.            The Government is heartened by the latest ground-up efforts by youths to generate greater public awareness of climate change. Climate change poses existential challenges for Singapore, including rising sea levels, extreme weather, and potential threats to our water and food supply. We need all Singaporeans to come on board to address these issues collectively, and with urgency.

3.            To sustain the momentum for climate action, we designated 2019 as our Year Towards Zero Waste, to encourage Singaporeans to treasure our resources and make it a habit to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We are also nudging businesses to adopt a circular economy approach, and engage in sustainable production and consumption, so that we can reduce the amount of waste we generate. This will in turn reduce the amount of carbon emissions.

4.            In July this year, we also launched the inaugural Climate Action Week, which we will be holding annually to sustain climate action. The week began with our Partners for the Environment Forum which gathered over 200 participants from the People, Private and Public (3P) sectors for discussions on climate change, and waste reduction and circular economy initiatives. This was followed by a series of ground-up activities and events organised by our 3P partners, including businesses, NGOs and youths.

5.            Youths are important agents of change, and we have been actively reaching out to them and the broader community to encourage environmental stewardship. Earlier this year, MEWR worked with two youth-led environmental groups, Zero Waste SG and LepakInSG, to co-organise and facilitate focus group discussions on our inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan. The National Climate Change Secretariat also held a public consultation exercise on how Singapore can be a low-carbon global city state, which wrapped up end of last month.

6.            Moving forward, we want to partner Singaporeans to co-create and co-deliver solutions to address our sustainability challenges. MEWR has convened our first Citizens' Workgroup, where 48 Singaporeans of diverse backgrounds are working together to look at how we can improve the way households in Singapore recycle. Next year, we plan to convene a second Workgroup to look at the excessive consumption of single-use plastics. We welcome youths and members of the public to join us in co-creating practical solutions to make Singapore more sustainable.

7.            To broaden our outreach and engage key stakeholders, my Ministry has embarked on various collaborations with partners. One example is the Climate Action SG Alliance (CASA), which was set up in 2018 by a group of corporate and civil society leaders. The Alliance has 20 members, and includes youth-led groups such as Singapore Youth for Climate Action. CASA has initiated a series of projects to galvanise businesses and public to take action for the environment. Two members of the Alliance, Sembcorp and Eco-Business, just recently released a new video to raise awareness of the contamination in our blue recycling bins, and to educate the public on how to recycle right. Many of our partners have also engaged the public on climate action through activities such as movie screenings, dialogues and festivals. To encourage more ground up initiatives, we have provided support for projects related to waste reduction and recycling through our ‘Towards Zero Waste Grant’, which was announced at the start of the year. We encourage individuals, interest groups, NGOs, grassroots organisations and corporations to apply for the grant.

8.            Singapore’s efforts to address climate change goes beyond our shores. We participate actively and constructively in international negotiations at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In July 2018, we convened the first ever Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA). This October, we will also be hosting the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meetings for the first time. To help build our community’s understanding of key issues in international environmental negotiations, we have facilitated the participation of Singapore NGOs in the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2018 and 2019.

9.            The government’s joint efforts with our 3P partners have demonstrated that Singapore can come together as a nation to address the challenges of climate change. We must continue on this journey of sustainable development. By working together to raise awareness and take collective action, we will ensure that Singapore remains a vibrant and liveable city for our future generations.