Climate Change and Development Context
Singapore is one of the world’s most competitive economies and greenest countries. However, as a low-lying island with high population density, the country has inevitably been affected by the impacts of climate change. The sea level in the Straits of Singapore has increased by 3 mm per year since 1998, while the island lies only 15 m above the mean sea level.[i] Due to a high rate of urbanization, the urban mean temperature has increased 1°C, causing an “urban heat island” effect.[ii] Weather variability also creates challenges for water management, where natural resources are already limited.
The Government of Singapore is very responsive to climate change issues, providing long-term planning, policies, and actions through integrated land use planning, water management, and investment in research and infrastructure. The government announced a goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 7-11 percent from 2020 business-as-usual levels or by 16 percent if there is a legally binding global agreement. The main thrust is the improvement of energy efficiency by developing resource efficient technologies that can be used domestically as well as exported, aligning with the national green growth strategy.[iii] A recent national public perception survey (2011) shows that 86 percent of Singaporean residents felt responsible for helping to address climate change and 58 percent expressed the view that the country should take steps to work on climate change even if the works involve significant cost.[iv]
Key National Institutions, Policies and Initiatives
Key institutions: The Singapore National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), a dedicated unit under the Prime Minister’s Office, was established in 2010 to lead and coordinate national climate change strategies with relevant agencies and partners. It adopts a whole-of-government approach and works with the people, and the public and private (3P) sectors, to devise and implement cost-effective mitigation and adaptation solutions.[v] The NCCS also supports the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change to coordinate with government agencies on climate change policies.[vi]
Policies and initiatives: The National Climate Change Strategy (2012) outlines Singapore’s plans to address climate change challenges and achieve the country’s vision to be “a climate-resilient city state that is well positioned for green growth”. The core strategies are to reduce GHG emissions in all sectors (e.g., by increasing energy efficiency and minimizing energy waste), improve readiness to adapt to climate change effects, harness green growth opportunities (e.g., by developing, deploying, and exporting innovative climate-friendly technologies, also creating high value jobs and business opportunities), and forge partnerships.
Examples of sectoral mitigation measures highlighted in the National Climate Change Strategy include: a switch in fuel mix away from fuel oil to natural gas for power generation; incinerate sludge rather than dispose in landfills; tighten Minimum Energy Performance Standards for household air-conditioners and refrigerators; require Green Mark Certification for all new buildings and retrofitted existing buildings; achieve 70:30 modal split between public and private transport; and develop and support energy efficiency financing pilot schemes for industry.[vii] The national strategy also focuses on enhancing knowledge and expertise in climate science to achieve a deeper understanding of vulnerabilities and develop appropriate adaptation solutions. The Meteorological Service Singapore has set up the Centre for Climate Research Singapore to build in-house capability in climate science and climate modeling.[viii]
The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB) (2009) presents key national goals and initiatives on environmentally sustainable development for the next 20 years. A four-pronged strategy includes: boosting resource efficiency, enhancing the urban environment, building capabilities, and fostering community action. [ix] The achievements of the works of the SSB are anticipated to reduce emissions growth by 7 to 11 percent below 2020 business-as-usual levels.
[i] “Impact of Climate Change on Singapore.” National Climate Change Secretariat website (accessed 26 Nov 2013). http://app.nccs.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=160&secid=157
[ii] Dr. Wong Nyuk Hien. “A Study of Urban Heat Island in Singapore.” National University of Singapore. http://www.sde.nus.edu.sg/rsh/SDE_rsh_highlights_B01.html
[iii] National Climate Change Strategy (2012). National Climate Change Secretariat website (accessed 27 Nov 2013). http://app-stg.nccs.gov.sg/data/resources/docs/Documents/NCCS-2012.pdf
[v] “Organization Chart.” National Climate Change Secretariat website (accessed 26 Nov 2013). http://app.nccs.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=46&secid=7
[vi] “Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change.: National Climate Change Secretariat website (accessed 26 Nov 2013). http://app.nccs.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=47&secid=7
[vii] National Climate Change Strategy (2012)
[viii] National Climate Change Strategy (2012)
[ix] Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (2009). National Climate Change Secretariat website (accessed 27 Nov 2013).http://app.nccs.gov.sg/%28X%281%29S%28ha0a0bi1jazno25542mtbama%29%29/page.aspx?pageid=123&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
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