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An ‘anxious’ youth’s call for Singapore to make stronger climate commitments amid disappointing Glasgow summit

"We are at the point of no return." That was the message I got from reading the latest assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year.

An ‘anxious’ youth’s call for Singapore to make stronger climate commitments amid disappointing Glasgow summit

Cabinet minister Grace Fu delivered Singapore’s national statement at a global climate summit in Glasgow on Nov 9, 2021, calling for urgent collective action and saying Singapore would not shy away from taking bold action.

Shaune Chow

"We are at the point of no return."

That was the message I got from reading the latest assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year.

It left me anxious.

Experts and activists have pointed to the ongoing 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) as the world's last best chance to save itself from planetary crisis.

It is with this odd mix of hope and anxiousness that I followed news emerging from the summit, waiting with bated breath for leaders from Singapore and the world to step up and create a habitable future for my generation and the ones to come.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu delivered Singapore’s national statement at the conference on Tuesday (Nov 9), calling for “urgent collective action” and saying that Singapore would “not shy away from taking bold action”.

While I commend these strong statements, I can’t help but feel disappointed by Singapore’s existing climate policies and commitments made at COP26 so far.

They do little to reflect the urgent and bold action needed. 

Though Ms Fu pointed again to Singapore’s Green Plan as a “concrete near-term plan” to achieve Singapore’s net-zero ambition, it promises only to halve its 2030 peak greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.

This remains a far cry from the IPCC’s recommendation to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Government previously said the aim was to reach net-zero emissions “as soon as viable” in the second half of the century.

Our commitments at COP26 have done little to inspire hope.

Singapore was not a signatory to the landmark Declaration on Forest and Land Use, which pledges to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 as a tool to fight climate change and limit the rise in global temperatures.

And of our large local banks, only DBS has committed to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, which strives for net-zero emissions by 2050.

While it is heartening to hear that Singapore has joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance to phase out unabated coal power by 2050, I can't help but feel it is merely incremental with coal making up just 1.2 per cent of our electricity generation. Coal and peat form only about 0.3 per cent of our energy imports.

There has been no detailed commitment made in relation to the other unclean energy sources of natural gas and petroleum, with petroleum products forming 62 per cent of our energy imports.

We need to walk the talk and take “bold action” that Ms Fu calls for in her statement. As the COP26 nears its close, I urge stronger and more inspiring commitments from Singapore.

We are already teetering on the brink of no return.

The future of my generation lies in the climate commitments Singapore can make, and I wait with bated breath in the hope that Singapore punches above its weight to protect us from unprecedented planetary devastation.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Ms Shaune Chow, 21, is an undergraduate at the Singapore Management University.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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