High 5 – 19 February 2016 by Mr Derek Tan
Environmental Concerns and 2015 Paris Climate Conference
A very good morning to Mdm Tan, Mr Lee, Mr Tan, colleagues and Gessians. As I deliver my speech today, I want you to pay close attention to what I say and think about how the events/phenomena I mention will affect you and your family members.
This week, we commemorated Total Defence “Together we keep Singapore strong”. But is Singapore our ONLY responsibility? Are we not part of a larger community? Are we not all custodians of the only place we can call home – Earth?
Colleagues and Gessians, I will be taking to you more about environmental concerns for this week’s Hi5.
February 2014 – Bone-dry February has entered the record books as the country’s driest month in nearly 150 years, and the windiest in three decades, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA)
December 2015 – Record-breaking temperatures rounded off 2015, with last month likely to be the warmest December on record. The year was also one of Singapore’s hottest. The highest daily maximum temperature recorded in December 2015 was between 34.4 deg C and 34.7 deg C, almost 3 degrees higher than normal.
Over the past few years, Singapore has experienced some very extreme weather phenomena. Are we experiencing, firsthand, the effects of global warming? Is Singapore the only country experiencing global warming and such extreme weather events?
January 2015 – Snowstorms hit New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts in the United States. Thousands of people lost power, flights were canceled and sports events were called off as more than 2ft of snow settled in parts of the region.
January 2016 – Asia shivers: All bundled up, from Bangkok to Hanoi. Tourists and residents in Bangkok bundled up as the temperature dipped to 17.5 deg C yesterday, with many regions in Asia shivering in unusually cold weather. In fact it was so cold that hundreds of flights were cancelled across the region, with 60,000 holidaymakers stranded in South Korea. Sadly, 85 people died from hypothermia and cardiac arrest in Taiwan following the sudden drop in temperature. Lives were actually lost due to the extreme cold.
Imagine if one of your family members were stranded in an airport, caught in a cold snap. How would you feel?
As I address you today, I would like to reiterate that global warming is NOT the only impact of enhanced greenhouse effect. There are a number of other consequences such as extreme weather events such as snowstorms, drought and flood, and spread of infectious insect-borne diseases such as dengue and Zika virus, that we need to pay heed to as well.
In view of the potentially fatal repercussions associated with enhanced greenhouse effect, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. This Framework Convention is a universal convention of principle, acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic (or human-induced/caused) climate change and giving industrialized countries the major responsibility for combating it.
In December 2015, France hosted the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11). The result of the conference was a new international agreement on climate change to keep global warming below 2°C.
In the framework of COP21, each country was to publish its own INDC, or “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”, i.e. its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025-2030 in order to reduce and mitigate global warming. Countries can also choose their own measures and policies aimed at reducing the effects of global warming. Singapore is also committed to play its part in the global fight against climate change and will continue to reduce our CO2 emissions by 36%, as stated by our Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, at the Paris Conference. You will be pleased to note that Singapore will be signing/ratifying the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 22 April later this year.
However, environmental conservation is not just the responsibility of the government. We can play our part by adopting some climate-friendly habits. For example:
- Switching off of appliances on standby mode – computers on standby still consume 20-40% of its regular power
- Turning off the light when leaving a room
- Not wasting water – a dripping tap wastes up to 120 litres of water per day, a leaking toilet flush = 1,000litres per day!
- Using public transport and carpooling to reduce CO2 emissions from cars
- Recycling waste and using less disposable products – always remember the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Let us Respect the only Earth we have and have the Discipline to do what is required to create a sustainable future for us and our future generations.