SG Youth for Climate Action statement on Loss & Damage fund not accurate: MSE

The youths were "shocked" that Singapore is viewed as a claimant to the fund.

Gawain Pek | March 22, 2023, 12:21 PM

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On Mar. 13, SG Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) published a statement expressing shock at remarks made by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu that Singapore is a "potential claimant" to the Loss and Damage fund.

This fund was set up at COP27 to provide support for vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters.

Fu's remarks were made in Parliament on Feb. 24, in response to questions from Workers' Party Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera about whether Singapore will make contributions to the Loss and Damage fund.

In response to queries from Mothership, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) said that it was aware of SYCA's statement.

MSE also noted that "the (SYCA) statement does not give an accurate account of Minister Fu’s comments in Parliament on Feb. 24".

SYCA "shocked"

In its Mar. 13 statement, SYCA noted that Fu "announced" that Singapore is a "potential claimant" for Loss and Damage funding.

"We at Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) are shocked to hear of this development, given that the debate was previously focused on whether Singapore should contribute to the fund.

This was also a view corroborated by several countries, who called for rich countries that were not listed under Annex I, like Singapore and Qatar, to also contribute to the fund."

SYCA further elaborated that while Singapore may be "renewable energy-disadvantaged due to geographical factors", it was not unique in facing energy constraints.

It also noted how Singapore's geographical location confers us the "unique advantage of rarely facing natural disasters".

It then gave anecdotal examples of how neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines were affected in the past by disasters such as drought and typhoons.

SYCA pointed out that with these in mind, "we fully recognise the urgent need for them to attain loss and damage funds" to rebuild.

"To assert that we too are 'equally' vulnerable is not only inaccurate but also deeply unjust; every dollar we take is another dollar our neighbours lose," SYCA wrote.

The statement also noted that Singapore "possesses sufficient human and financial capital for climate adaptation and mitigation."

In its conclusion, SYCA posited that Singapore faced "very real resource constraints", but did not fall into the same category as others who "have already witnessed climate-related damage within their societies".

"We sincerely hope that the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment can clarify the statement, and that Singapore will not be a claimant for Loss and Damage funds," SYCA wrote.

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SYCA statement not accurate account: MSE

MSE told Mothership that in Fu's parliamentary remarks, she said that a Transitional Committee (TC) has been tasked to make recommendations on the details of the fund which are due to be presented at COP28.

"As the details have yet to be discussed among the parties of COP, it is premature to draw any conclusions on the donors and recipients," MSE wrote.

On Singapore's status as a developing country, MSE commented:

"Minister Fu pointed out that a key guiding principle of COP is that countries that have caused and are most responsible for climate change must take the lead in supporting vulnerable communities to avert, minimise and address climate-related loss and damage.

The Paris Agreement also reaffirms this obligation by developed countries to mobilise climate finance for developing countries. Minister Fu stated factually that Singapore is classified as a developing country."

Additionally, MSE shared that Singapore does not intend to be a member of the TC, but "we intend to engage constructively with the TC".

MSE also reiterated Singapore's contributions towards supporting "fellow developing countries", such as with disaster risk financing via the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility.

Feb. 24 Parliamentary exchange

In the Parliament sitting on Feb. 24, Perera asked the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment if Singapore will be contributing to the Loss and Damage fund.

In her initial reply, Fu remarked that Singapore, as part of the Alliance of Small Island States, along with other developing countries, has "long called for the establishment of a loss and damage fund".

Fu shared that small island states like Singapore are "disproportionately affected" by sea-level rise, and there is a need to channel financial resources towards adaptation and address loss and damage.

Fu went on to share that a TC has been set up to study the details of the Loss and Damage fund, and that Singapore will engage constructively with the TC.

Perera followed up two more times, seeking clarifications on whether Singapore will be making contributions.

Fu reiterated the point that a TC had been set up and that Singapore will engage with the TC.

The minister remarked that the fund is a recognition of the responsibility of developed countries to the developing countries, the latter of which Singapore belongs to.

Fu also reiterated that the details of the fund have yet to be hammered out, and Singapore, being a developing country stands as a "potential claimant" to the fund.

Perera rose for the fourth and final time, asking the Minister if her replies meant Singapore may make a contribution in the future.

"The understanding is that we have not even had the chance to discuss this internationally, and we have to decide whether we will contribute or we will claim from this fund," Fu replied.

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Top image via MCI/YouTube, @syclimateaction/Instagram