S'poreans must learn to adjust daily lives as climate change brings about more intense rainfall: Grace Fu

Fu also outlined mitigation measures that Singapore will be taking to reduce carbon emissions.

Fiona Tan | September 02, 2021, 01:00 PM

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Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, said that people in Singapore have to be prepared to adapt and adjust to extreme weather events fuelled by climate change.

She was speaking virtually at a webinar hosted by the ministry on August 31 where local scientists shared about the findings from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sixth assessment report (IPCC AR6), and the potential implications for Singapore.

Building community resilience

Fu touched on the impacts of climate change, where the rise in temperature will bring about "more extreme weather patterns".

Singapore is expected to experience "more intense rainfall" due to climate change, and it is "not possible to completely eliminate flash floods", said Fu.

As such, Fu said that it is vital to develop the community's resilience against effects of climate change.

People in Singapore have to be prepared for extreme weather events by making some adjustments to daily lives such as cultivating a habit of checking weather advisories and warnings before heading out.

The government will, in turn, strengthen the weather forecasting and sensing capabilities, and improve education and outreach efforts.

Another example of building the public preparedness for extreme weather events that Fu gave is the deployment of flood protection devices to building owners and residents in Singapore's low-lying areas ahead of heavy monsoon seasons.

Fu added that the national water agency PUB has invested almost S$2 billion on drainage works in the last ten years, and will continue to invest another S$1.4 billion over the next five years.

Despite increasing urbanisation, the enhanced drainage system has led to a reduction of the flood prone areas in Singapore from 3,200 hectares in the 1970s to 28 hectares today, said Fu.

Coastal protection

Fu added on and said that coastal protection will be implemented in phases, starting with coastlines that are "more vulnerable".

This is another way for Singapore to adapt to climate change as a coastal and low-lying city that is "particularly vulnerable" to the resultant rising sea levels, said Fu.

According to Fu, PUB is studying specific sites along City-East Coast to look at feasible solutions.

Further studies for Jurong Island and the North-West coast will commence later this year, and in 2022 respectively.

After which, Fu said subsequent plans, with the flexibility to take into consideration the "latest climate science", will be drawn up.

"This involves understanding the science, building flexibility in our plans to account for climate uncertainties, making significant long-term investments in infrastructure in a fiscally prudent manner."

Third National Climate Change Study

The Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) has embarked on the Third National Climate Change Study to derive local climate projections based on global IPCC models.

In Fu's words, this means applying the IPCC findings to Singapore's weather patterns.

The study will be completed by end of 2022.

CCRS is collaborating with local universities to perform research and build up Singapore's climate science capabilities.

Mitigation efforts

Besides Singapore's adaptation efforts, Singapore will also press on with its mitigation efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Fu said.

"Every tonne of greenhouse gas reduced can and will lead to tangible improvements to our environment. Despite only contributing 0.1 per cent of global carbon emissions, Singapore will play our full part," Fu said in her speech.

Fu listed "three key strategies" to decarbonise and they are:

1) Being more energy and carbon efficient as a whole

Fu said that Singapore's industries, economy, and society will be transformed to be more energy and carbon efficient.

One example is Singapore's carbon tax, which was introduced in 2019, to drive the reduction of carbon emissions in industries.

Singapore is the first in Southeast Asia to implement a carbon tax.

In addition, more renewable energy will be adopted, and solar energy deployment will quadruple from 2020 levels to at least 2 GWp by 2030.

2) Low-carbon technologies

Fu said that the government will invest and draw on low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and low-carbon hydrogen.

The Low-Carbon Energy Research Programme supports projects to catalyse growth in low-carbon technologies, and develop solutions for the region and beyond.

These projects help to develop technical capabilities and regulatory requirements to prepare the nation for larger scale deployment of hydrogen.

3) International collaboration

Fu also said that Singapore will work together with other countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to sustain the global momentum on climate action.

This includes fostering international collaboration in areas such as well-functioning carbon markets and regional electricity grids.

Fu said, "Climate action requires a concerted global effort."

Code red for humanity

Fu highlighted in her speech that the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the latest IPCC report as a ‘code red for humanity’.

Earlier, Guterres also said that the latest evidence from IPCC AR6 is "irrefutable" and will require nations to step up climate actions urgently.

The findings from the IPCC AR6, which was released on Aug. 9, points towards an estimated 1.5°C rise in the average global surface temperature in the early 2030s, based on four out of five emission scenarios.

In the business-as-usual scenario, the average global surface temperature is set to rise by 1.5°C by 2030.

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