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9 in 10 S'pore millennials willing to do their part for the environment, but want Govt to do more: Survey

SINGAPORE — A survey by Mediacorp has found that the vast majority of Singapore millennials are concerned about the impact of climate change and want to do their part to address the problem.

In a Mediacorp survey, 88 per cent of respondents aged 18 and 24 “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they will do their part for the environment, which is a slightly lower proportion than those in other age groups.

In a Mediacorp survey, 88 per cent of respondents aged 18 and 24 “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they will do their part for the environment, which is a slightly lower proportion than those in other age groups.

Singapore

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SINGAPORE — A survey by Mediacorp has found that the vast majority of Singapore millennials are concerned about the impact of climate change and want to do their part to address the problem.

At the same time, they also want the Government to do more on this front — with about a quarter of millennials surveyed (those aged between 25 and 34) believing that Singapore’s current infrastructure is inadequate to withstand the impact of climate change.

Conducted between July 20 and 24, the online survey polled 1,002 Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 18 and above on their views about climate change and the Government's actions on the issue. Days before the survey was carried out, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli described climate change as a “pressing priority and existential challenge”.

Speaking on July 17 at a forum to promote environmental collaboration, Mr Masagos said: “At stake is nothing less than the physical preservation of our island nation and its inhabitants.” He also announced the setting up of a Climate Science Research Programme Office under the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS).  The CCRS will set aside S$10 million in funding over the next five years for the National Sea Level Research Programme.

In the Mediacorp survey, which was representative of Singapore’s general population by age, gender and ethnicity, 68 per cent of respondents aged between 18 and 24 “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that Singapore’s current infrastructure is able to withstand the impact of climate change. The rest (32 per cent) “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed”.

Among those who are between 25 and 34 years old, 74 per cent expressed belief that the country’s current infrastructure is adequate, with the rest indicating otherwise.

The proportion of respondents in the other age groups who believed that Singapore's current infrastructure can withstand the impact of climate change was between 61 per cent and 71 per cent.  

For the younger respondents — those aged between 18 and 24 as well as between 25 and 34  the vast majority (about 95 per cent) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the Government must do more to minimise the impact of climate change. This was in line with the proportion among the older respondents. 

Among the respondents who are between 18 and 24 years old, 88 per cent “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they will do their part for the environment. This was slightly lower compared to those aged between 25 and 34 (91 per cent), as well as those in the other age groups (between 91 and 96 per cent).

Likewise, the proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds who were concerned about the consequences of global warming (91 per cent) was marginally lower than those between 25 and 34 years old (94 per cent) and those in the other age groups (between 95 and 96 per cent). 

In comparison to the other age groups, a lower proportion of the younger respondents (73 per cent of those aged 18 to 24; 79 per cent of those aged 25 to 34) indicated that they were aware of the Government’s efforts on this front. The proportion was between 82 and 84 per cent for the respondents in the other age groups. 

IMPACT AND MEASURES TAKEN

On the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) website, it is stated that climate change affects Singapore's annual mean surface temperature, which has risen from 26.8°C in 1948 to 27.6°C in 2011. The daily rainfall totals and frequency of days with heavier rainfall have also risen.

Besides that, the mean sea level has increased 3mm a year over the last 15 years.

“This makes adaption measures a necessity for Singapore to prepare for the effects and to increase resilience to the effects of climate change,” NCCS said, adding that Singapore has “started making early preparations to adapt to the impact of climate change”.

Apart from reducing carbon emissions, the series of measures include enhancing knowledge and expertise, coastal protection, water resource management, as well as drainage and flood prevention.

For example, to cater for long-term sea-level rise, the minimum land reclamation level in Singapore was raised from 3m to 4m above the mean sea level in 2011. Walls and stone embankments have also been constructed to cover 70 to 80 per cent of the island's coastline.

A 'TERRIFYING' PROBLEM

Millennials interviewed by TODAY — and who were not part of the Mediacorp survey — said that they were concerned about the impact of climate change, with most of them attributing it to the awareness generated by friends or influencers on social media.

Miss Goh Pei Jin, a 20-year-old digital marketing specialist, noted that social media influencers constantly draw attention to the topic.

Describing social media as a “big catalyst” in raising awareness, full-time national serviceman Darren Chua, 21, said: “A lot of friends I know are either helping to protect the environment or following pages aiming to do that – from raising awareness, to activism, to promoting lifestyle changes like buying secondhand clothes.”

The young Singaporeans noted that their generation and their offspring would bear the brunt of the consequences decades from now.

Miss Nicolette Shruthy Robert Michael, a 19-year-old student at Lasalle College of the Arts, said that although she and her friends sometimes joked that they would never bear children on a “dying planet”, the reality facing future generations was “quite terrifying”.

Some, such as Mr Drake Law, described young people as being “angry” that they would be left to deal with the effects of the choices made by earlier generations.

“If we don’t step up and make changes, it will be us and our kids who are going to suffer,” the 22-year-old buying assistant said.

On their part, the millennials said that they are actively engaging in efforts to combat climate change, but several felt that more could be done by corporations and the Government.

Those interviewed said that they make efforts, for example, to take part in beach clean-ups, buy reusable bags and borrow instead of buy books.

Mr Vignaraaj Chantherakumar, 28, is among those who help out during beach clean-ups. He observed that young people are engaging in these efforts because they feel that they have to take matters into their own hands or they could potentially bear the brunt of the impact of climate change.

Still, several interviewees acknowledged that individual action has limited impact. Mr Chua, for example, said that the public has to pressure businesses to adopt more sustainable practices.

Many also said that the Government could do more to inform the public about its efforts to tackle climate change, in order to drive home the urgency of the issue.

Mr Law said: “I have been unable to convince my parents that climate change is real, and I believe that if the Government tries harder to inform the public, older generations will be more aware and be more likely to believe that there is a problem as well.” 

Miss Nicolette Shruthy noted that the Government has been encouraging Singaporeans to go green, but she felt that the messages need to be refreshed.

Ms Melissa Low, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute, sees that there is a need for the Government to engage youths more on climate change issues — given their keen interest and passion.

For instance, the Government could be more open about the trade-offs involved in its decisions which affect the environment, she suggested.

Ms Low, who volunteers with the National Youth Council, said: “Young people have a lot of questions (about the environment) and they don’t have many people who can answer these questions for them. It’s about making sense of these complexities about what the Government is doing.”

Related topics

climate change MediaCorp global warming environment survey millennials

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