Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 A very good morning to all. I thank Global
Compact Network Singapore for organising this virtual Summit, and for inviting
me to join you.
DECADE FOR DECISIVE ACTION
2 Our generation is facing challenges on
multiple fronts. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impact on our lives,
and led to loss of jobs and income. The Government has set aside close to $100
billion for COVID-19 support packages for our people and businesses, and we
intend to spend another $8 billion to save jobs, create new ones and seize new
3 Even as we do this, however, we need to
push on in our fight against climate change, which will be the crisis of many generations.
Last month, the World Meteorological Organisation, a United Nations agency, reported
that global warming could exceed the key threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius by
2024 ― far sooner than scientists had earlier predicted. I am sure many of you
would have been alarmed by the dramatic photo of an ice block, larger than the
size of Paris, breaking off from Greenland’s glacier. Unless global carbon
greenhouse gas emissions drop sharply this decade, there will be little chance
of limiting warming to safer limits.
4 As we recover from the effects of the
COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt, and
incorporate them in our way forward. This will enable us to emerge from this
crisis stronger, and build the Singapore we want for our future generations. As
GCNS puts it, this is the “Decade for Decisive Action”.
5 The Government will push for a green
recovery, to support a competitive transition to a low-carbon and
climate-resilient future. We are putting in place energy efficiency schemes to
help our companies transform to be best-in-class globally in energy and carbon
efficiency. We are also partnering the industry and our research community to
study the feasibility of low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture,
utilisation and storage (CCUS), and use of low-carbon hydrogen. We will
continue to work with industry stakeholders to maximise solar deployment on the
rooftops of private industrial and commercial buildings to meet our solar
target of at least 2 GWp by 2030.
6 We will continue to invest in climate
science, to enable the development of meaningful solutions to tackle climate
change. We have launched a $10 million National Sea Level Research Programme to
develop more robust projections of rising sea levels, and we have set aside an
initial funding of $5 billion for the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund to
protect Singapore against rising sea levels. By the end of this year, we will
set up a Climate Science Research Programme Office to drive efforts to
formulate Singapore’s national climate science research masterplan.
7 Climate change will affect access to
critical resources, including water and food. We will strengthen our water and
food security, by investing in weather-resilient sources, and producing more
with less. We will work with industry and community partners to address our key
waste streams and pursue circular economy approaches. New jobs and
opportunities will be created for our people through these efforts.
IMPORTANCE OF COLLECTIVE ACTIONS
8 Climate change is a global challenge that
requires collective action by everyone ― governments, businesses, civil society
and individuals of all ages. Our youths, as leaders of today and tomorrow, play
an important role in shaping the future not just for this generation, but the
next. I am glad to see many youths rising to the challenge. I understand that
the programme for the Youth Track at this Summit was conceptualised, planned
and implemented by the Youth Organising Committee.
9 Youths can be powerful agents of change.
Let me share three ways you can make a difference. First, you can reduce your
individual impact on the environment by consciously looking at what you are
purchasing and consuming each day. Find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Order
only what you can finish eating, to help reduce food waste. Bring your own bag
the next time you go shopping, to reduce the use of disposable bags. Recycle
your electronic products instead of throwing them in the bin. Our individual
actions may seem insignificant, but the sum of our individual actions can make
10 Second, influence those around you to do
the same. Many youths are stepping up to organise movements and initiate
projects to rally people to be part of the solution. Singapore Youth for
Climate Action, for example, recently produced a citizens’ guide to disposing
e-waste in Singapore. Zero Waste Singapore, a youth-led non-governmental
organisation, drives the Bring Your Own (or BYO) Singapore movement, which
works with retailers to offer incentives to customers to bring their own
reusable bags, bottles and containers. I am encouraged by their passion, and others
like them. The recipients of the Young Leaders SDG Awards have also embarked on
very interesting projects. I look forward to meeting them later.
11 Third, learn from one another. There are
youths from different ASEAN countries in the audience today. Each of our
countries has our own national priorities and circumstances, but there is much
we can learn from one another in our common pursuit of sustainability. I hope
everyone will be generous in sharing your unique experiences and perspectives
in this summit.
12 Let me conclude. The road to recovery and
sustainability may be long, but I believe we can overcome the challenges if we work
together as one united people and stay the course.