Singapore

Singapore boosts its effort to fight climate change

$400m to be spent on upgrading drains and $10m on studying sea level rise

Singapore is fortifying its defences against climate change, with $400 million being pumped into upgrading and maintaining its drains over the next two years, and $10 million more channelled into studying sea level rise.

These are just two of a multitude of measures meant to guard against a "perfect storm" of events that could see Singapore engulfed by sea water if not enough is done.

But the Government cannot do this alone, and everyone has a part to play to prevent "the end of life as usual", said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

Calling on the public to embrace green changes, he said his ministry will be convening a citizens' workgroup in September, working with 50 Singaporeans to improve the way recycling is carried out here.

People who want to join this effort can apply to do so.

Mr Masagos was speaking at the Partners for the Environment Forum to explore ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.

He highlighted the real, "ultimate threat to human survival" that climate change presents.

The Meteorological Service Singapore's Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) has found that, in the rare scenario of high mean sea levels, high tide and a surge all occuring at the same time, sea levels could rise almost 4m above the current mean and overwhelm the island's low-lying coastal areas.

"If we push our imaginations further, in the extremely rare occurrence that a tropical storm happens at sea - sending us surge waters that we can't keep out - and a heavy rainstorm happens inland - bringing down rainwater we can't drain away - both at the same time, we could have the ingredients of a 'perfect storm'," he said.

"While this is an extremely rare scenario based on today's science, it could possibly not be inconceivable in the future."

"The warning is loud and unmistakable: We must act now, or we may well face the ultimate threat to human survival... the end of life as usual."

To shore up its defences, Singapore is launching a $10-million National Sea Level research programme over the next five years, to develop more robust sea level rise projections.

The ministry will also set up a new programme office in the CCRS to drive efforts in formulating a national climate science research masterplan and building up local capabilities. Set up in 2013, the centre is carrying out some of the most advanced tropical research in the region.

Aside from research, Singapore is also building up its resilience to floods and will spend another $400 million over the next two years to upgrade and maintain its drains. It has already spent around $1.8 billion in drainage improvement works since 2011.

However, the Government cannot fight climate change alone. Mr Masagos noted that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had, last month, spoken about expanding a democracy of deeds, where Singaporeans contribute not just their ideas but their efforts to build the Republic's future.

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Environment