NUS students come together to petition for school to withdraw from fossil fuels
Mr Jerald Lim, 25, was not always the eco-warrior he is today.
Before he started university at Yale-NUS College, climate change was merely a distant issue he would read about in the news.
But an environmental studies course he took in school reshaped his mindset in two ways.
First, it showed him that the climate problem went far beyond the individual.
Second, he realised that environmental change can be created through the work of a few people.
"Through a tool called the ecological footprint calculator, we realised that our unsustainable footprint would not change much with tweaks to food, transport and housing," Mr Lim told The New Paper.
"Most of it came down to things out of our direct control, like investment in fossil fuels."
The 25-year-old added: "We looked at case studies of how many small but dedicated groups came together and created a very big change. It's actually much more attainable than you think."
Mr Lim co-founded Students Taking Action for NUS (National University of Singapore) to Divest, also known as Stand, in October last year. It comprises seven NUS and Yale-NUS students.
Together with Fossil Free Yale-NUS, it started the online petition Tell NUS To Divest From Fossil Fuels, which aims to encourage the university to withdraw investments from fossil fuel groups that have unsustainable practices.
The petition has collected more than 800 signatures.
When contacted by TNP, an NUS spokesman said that while the university does not invest directly in fossil fuels, it does have a small exposure in fossil fuel-related areas that are held by fund managers.
By attempting to create a change in community mindset instead of in just the individual, the petition goes deeper than other movements like public education campaigns, said Mr Lim.
"With individual lifestyle changes, you can never really measure the extent of the change you're making. But with this we're pushing for one big, tangible change."
Stand held talks with the NUS administration last month over the divestment issue.
While NUS has not agreed to anything yet, it is willing to continue discussions, said Mr Lim.
He believes it is not just social change groups that are able to make change.
He believes every single person has a chance to do so.
Consumers have the ability to take action and not wait for a special occasion like Earth Day to do something worthwhile.
Mr Jeff Peh, Manager of Category Management Laundry Care from BSH Home Appliances, which owns the electronics manufacturer Bosch, agreed.
"The decisions a company makes boils down to what the consumers want."
Mr Lim believes everyone exists on a "spectrum of allies" of the green cause.
"There will always be people who don't see climate change as a big issue," he explained.
"The idea is not to turn everybody into an active ally. It's to instil in everyone a sense of urgency, so they all become more involved than they previously were."
Eco-change makers right here in Singapore
Not sure how to get involved this Earth Day? Here are two groups devoted to helping people understand what they can do to support climate action.
LepakInSG started out as an online calendar collating environmental events in Singapore. It now also organises events to raise action and awareness about environmental issues.
It aims to create systemic change in Singapore, so that individual actions to be more environmentally friendly actually have an impact.
For instance, people can use their voices to reduce waste by e-mailing caterers to ask for reusable crockery.
Check out @lepakinsg on Facebook.
This group aims to involve a larger portion of society in supporting climate action, working together, and using our limited time to act wisely.
It works this way: you invite a group of friends for a conversation, and Climate Conversations provides trained volunteer facilitators to host the discussions. They seek to help the group understand how climate change connects to the things that they care about, and how each person can be a part of building public support for a sustainable future.
Find out more at climateconversations.sg