Singapore committed to climate change fight

The floods afflicting Bangkok show how South- east Asian countries, including Singapore, are highly vulnerable to climate change, said Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, yesterday.

Mr Tan said it is important for the region to tackle global warming, as the phenomenon could lead to adverse effects on the environment, economy and society.

He said: "Today, we are already experiencing the effects of global warming. It is not simply about the melting of polar (ice) caps or the long-term increase in temperature.

"The immediate impact, to some degree, is already being felt," he said, citing the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, like droughts and storms, afflicting parts of the world.

Citing an example of how climate change impacts food supply, he said that the flood damage to agricul- tural land in Thailand is expected to increase food prices, especially that of rice.

He added: "The ripple effects of a disruption to Thailand's rice production are quite significant, given that it is the world's biggest rice exporter."

Mr Tan was speaking at the Forests, Biodiversity and Climate Change in South-east Asia conference at the Singapore Management University.

Organised by the Institute of South-east Asian Studies, the conference aims to raise awareness on environmental conservation.

It is also supported by partners such as the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), which is under the Prime Minister's Office.

Mr Tan reiterated Singapore's commitment to combating the challenges of climate change, highlighting the nation's efforts, such as pledging to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and making buildings here eco-friendly.

His stand echoes that of the addendum to the President's address released by NCCS last week, which stated that it aims to reduce carbon emissions by increasing use of less carbon-intensive fuels, and improving energy conservation and efficiency.

Mr Tan also noted that many international environmental non-profit organisations have made Singapore their regional base, and there are more to come, such as Birdlife International, and Fauna and Flora International.

He said that such organisations choose Singapore as their pan-Asian base because of its pro-business environment, accessibility to the Asia-Pacific region and the large pool of international talent.

"We welcome environmental non-profit organisa- tions to leverage on our strengths to further their work...and it's important to support this," said Mr Tan.

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