S'pore pledge to meet climate goals is unconditional

Singapore yesterday gave an unconditional guarantee that it will strive to meet its targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, even if the ongoing United Nations (UN) climate talks do not result in a global pact to reduce emissions.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan gave the assurance yesterday before he sets off early tomorrow for the talks in Paris.

Referring to the targets submitted by Singapore ahead of the climate talks, he said they were not only "achievable" but also "good for us".

"To a large extent, we can also save money for citizens, so I think this trajectory that we have set for ourselves is the correct one, and is one that we should pursue anyway."

His comments followed reservations expressed last month by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change.

Mr Teo had said Singapore may have to review its climate change position if a global pact is not achieved in Paris.

He said that some measures, such as incentivising industries and building owners to reduce energy use and increase carbon efficiency, "need to be done in tandem with other countries".

In July, Singapore had laid out its pledge in a document sent to the UN ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties, which started on Monday and is expected to end next Friday.

Singapore had set the the target of stopping any increase to its greenhouse gas emissions by around 2030.

It also pledged to become greener economically by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to achieve each dollar of gross domestic product by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Despite Singapore's lack of renewable energy, such as wind or geothermal, it can still meet the targets in other ways, Dr Balakrishnan said.

These include:

- Promoting greater energy efficiency in the domestic and industrial sectors;

- Pushing for more green buildings, especially at the design and planning stages;

- Aiming for the petrochemical industry to continuously upgrade using the least pollutive, safest and most efficient technologies available;

- Improving public transport; and

- Increasing solar energy production.

The UN climate conference aims to achieve the first global climate agreement that would help keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 deg C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

The existing Kyoto Protocol governs only emissions from developed countries.

The Singapore delegation to the conference will be led by Dr Balakrishnan and Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli. Mr Masagos, at a separate event on Tuesday, urged all Singaporeans to use less energy.

"At the same time as we reduce our use of energy and resources, we have to think about how to reuse and increase the amount of things we can recycle.

"All these put together, from a consumer's point of view, will reduce the amount of resources and energy that we need in Singapore," he said.


This article was first published on Dec 5, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.