As weather gets erratic, Singaporeans should check forecasts regularly

Singapore must be prepared for extreme weather events, says Grace Fu

With climate change expected to make weather patterns more erratic, people should regularly check weather forecasts and make adjustments to their activities accordingly, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said yesterday.

"As climate change brings about more intense rainfall, it will not be possible to completely eliminate flash floods," she said. "For far too long, Singaporeans have grown used to our weather... But increasingly, we need to build that habit of checking weather forecasts. This is part of our preparedness as a population."

Ms Fu was speaking during a webinar on the implications for Singapore following the release of a report last month by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC report had sounded the alarm for humanity, with climate scientists warning that the world could face more extreme weather and other impacts of climate change if global emissions do not come down to net-zero by around 2050.

Ms Fu said: "We shall build preparedness for extreme weather events, have the population checking weather advisories and warnings, and adjust our daily lives in response to weather forecasts."

This "community resilience", she said, is one way Singapore should respond to climate change, even as the country presses on with other efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and adapt to climate change.

The Government will also do its part, she said, by strengthening weather forecasting capabilities and improving education and outreach efforts.

Ms Fu said: "For example, ahead of heavy monsoon seasons, national water agency PUB will continue to work closely with building owners and residents in low-lying areas to deploy flood protection devices to safeguard lives and properties."

Her comments come after flash floods occurred in different parts of Singapore over the past two weeks.

While it is not clear how climate change has affected rainfall patterns in Singapore, climate scientists have warned that global warming can result in bouts of more intense rainfall. This is because a warmer atmosphere can "hold" more water.

But Singapore is experiencing other clearer climate change impacts, including warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.

Ms Fu said the country plans to adapt to these impacts by developing a heat mitigation plan, which includes increasing urban greenery and scaling up the use of materials like "cool paints" to reflect heat.

Singapore is also conducting studies to see how various segments of its coast can be protected from sea-level rise.

Ms Fu said the Republic will also press on with its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, even though the country contributes only 0.1 per cent to global emissions.And as tackling climate action requires a global effort, Singapore is a strong advocate for a "multilateral, rules-based approach" to addressing the issue, she added.

"Our plans are not static, and we will continue to raise our climate ambitions as more options for emissions reductions emerge."