Big study on how climate change affects S'pore

Big study on how climate change affects S'pore
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

SINGAPORE is embarking on a nationwide effort to study how climate change will affect every piece of state infrastructure on the island - from roads and power stations to parks.

Every government agency and statutory board will be involved in what is a key plank in the nation's strategy to cope with the inevitable impact of a warming planet.

For instance, the more than 3,000km road network will be studied to understand how rising sea levels and extreme weather such as intense rain, higher temperatures and flooding could affect it.

The study will then look for ways to make these more resilient, as well as predict what would happen if nothing is done, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Ministry of National Development yesterday.

Ministry representatives spoke to the media on the sidelines of an event yesterday by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the Furama Riverfront Hotel to give insights on its recent report. The IPCC said that sea levels could rise by up to 0.82m by 2100, depending on greenhouse gas emissions.

Its scientists also predict that South-east Asia will get both hotter and wetter in future, while intense rain and dry spells may become more common.

The risk assessment framework was developed by the Government earlier this year to add to its climate change strategy.

It represents a more systematic method to guide agencies as they plan how to address climate change, said the spokesmen.

It would also help identify measures to adapt to climate change early.

Lessons were drawn from similar frameworks in the United States, Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and South Korea.

The first findings from the study will be available in 2016. The Government hopes that the private sector would subsequently adopt its own framework.

Yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan spoke at the event about Singapore's vulnerabilities as a low-lying and densely populated city-state.

"We have witnessed for ourselves the increase in frequency and intensity of rainfall, as well as higher temperatures and longer periods of dry spells," said Dr Balakrishnan, who cited how Singapore had imported sand at "tremendous economic cost" to ensure that its reclaimed land was 2.25m above the highest tide level, to guard against sea-level rise.

"If we don't prepare adequately enough, then if and when a disaster occurs, the costs are escalated," he said.

Meanwhile, IPCC scientists said yesterday that not enough research exists for them to understand well how climate change will affect weather phenomena in South-east Asia.

They called for more studies to be done, as well as more local scientists to contribute to the IPCC's work.

davidee@sph.com.sg


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