Why Fighting Climate Change Is Everyone’s Business
Global warming is happening far away — the polar bears are in jeopardy because the Arctic ice (their home) is melting. Anyway, there’s no real hurry — we hardly suffer from its effects in Singapore. Right?
Wrong. Climate change is already impacting the planet we live in — and our sunny little isle, Singapore, is not spared. In fact, survival is at stake.
Peel off the blinkers just a little, and you’ll see the writing on the wall. There are already things you’ve likely noticed but not paid that much attention to — things that affect us right on home soil.
№1 — It’s getting hotter. They don’t call it global warming for nothing. Singapore is already warmer by 1 degree celsius today than in the 1950s. And it is predicted that temperatures will rise by 0.25 degrees celsius per decade. Compound that with the fact that Singapore is densely built-up, causing heat to be trapped in urban surfaces such as buildings and roads. Sweltering in the heat is not cool, literally. No doubt, Singaporeans have already felt it during the hotter months. [Psst! This is known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.]
№2 — It’s getting wetter. Rising global temperatures lead to more intense rainfall, and these episodes are happening far more frequently than they used to. This had led to flash floods in Singapore, causing swelling canals and traffic snarls on flooded roads. In fact, the highest rainfall recorded for Singapore in the last 40 years happened in April this year.
№3 — It’s getting higher — sea levels that is. Sea levels are rising globally. Though it may not be obvious now, Singapore is vulnerable to rising sea levels as well. We are a low-lying city, with about 30% of our island less than 5 metres above sea level. It is estimated that by 2100, our surrounding sea level will rise by more than 1 metre, potentially submerging parts of our coastline. If we don’t take action now, our homes and infrastructure can be affected.
So, what can we do?
Singapore has recently launched a big and bold roadmap to go greener in the form of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 — a nation-wide push to propel Singapore to reach ambitious yet concrete climate targets by 2030. This is to develop our country in a sustainable way in the face of climate change, not just for citizens of today, but for our future generations too.
From greener spaces to cleaner energy, the Green Plan will transform how we live, work and play:
● A greener and more sustainable home
We will be setting aside more land for green spaces and more than one million new trees will be planted. Plus, every household will just be a 10- minute walk from a park. This means more green lungs to explore and enjoy amidst cleaner air and a cooler environment.
● Fresher and more nutritious food
Singaporeans will welcome more farm-to-table freshness with more locally grown eggs, fish and vegetables. With Singapore currently importing more than 90% of its food, we are vulnerable to supply disruptions that may happen overseas, for example, when food crops get impacted by climate change. That’s why Singapore’s long-term goal is to become more self-reliant — by developing the capability and capacity to produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030!
What’s more, these locally-grown food items do not have to be air-flown or shipped to reach you — which means less carbon emissions will be incurred in its journey to your tummy! So, go ahead: buy local. At the supermarket, just look out for the red SG Fresh Produce logo to identify local produce.
● Towards Zero Waste
The 3Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle, should be a way of life. After all, the less waste we generate and the more we maximise our resources, the better it is for the environment.
Besides encouraging household recycling with the ubiquitous blue bins, Singapore is also putting in place more ways to get the community to recycle, such as e-waste recycling bins for laptops, batteries and mobile phones, reverse vending machines (where you get rewards for recycling), and even sports shoes collection bins to recycle old shoes into playgrounds. All these initiatives will help us reach Singapore’s target to reduce waste sent to our one and only Semakau Landfill by 30% by 2030!
● Cleaner energy
By 2030, we’ll be turning to solar energy more to help us power our nation in a greener way — the aim is to generate and use five times as much solar energy via both land-based and floating solar systems. This is enough electricity to power 350,000 homes a year!
It is a shame that the many solar panels placed high up on HDB rooftops across Singapore, to make full use of land space on our land scarce island, aren’t easily spotted. But if you didn’t already know, this initiative started back in 2014 and the solar energy generated is used to power lifts, corridor and staircase lightings, and water pumps.
HDB rooftops are not the only space we are innovatively repurposing!
Tengeh Reservoir is home to one of the world’s largest inland floating solar farms — it is around 45 football fields in size and hosts 122,000 solar panels.
Take a look at these floating solar panels for yourselves when you go for a run or picnic at Bedok and Lower Seletar Reservoir.
Cleaner energy will also be used to power the way we commute. We can look forward to a 100% cleaner energy bus fleet by 2040, which is also when we will completely phase out all Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. There will also be 60,000 charging points for electric vehicles nationwide by 2030 to support the switch to more energy-efficient vehicles. At the end of the day, using cleaner energy means a healthier Earth for us to live in.
● More future-forward jobs
As more industries transform and companies look to improve energy efficiency and green their practices as a competitive advantage, citizens can also look forward to more green jobs being created. One of Singapore’s key target to build up our Green Economy is to become a leading centre for Green Finance in Asia.
The gears of the Green Plan are already in motion. But sustainability is a collective effort and every individual must do their part.
Blue skies, lush greenery and sandy beaches that we love — nature as we know it may not exist in the near future if we neglect fighting climate change today.
Climate change is neither the other person’s fault nor someone else’s burden to bear. It is everyone’s responsibility — yours and mine, collectively — to act on today!
Learn more about the Green Plan: www.greenplan.gov.sg.
Want to find out how you can contribute? Here are some every day eco actions you can take: