The Workers’ Party on Climate Change in Parliament

The Workers’ Party MPs note and agree with the many concerns expressed at the recent SG Climate rally, together with other civil society groups and Singaporeans, about the Climate Emergency facing our planet.

The Workers’ Party has spoken up about excessive carbon emissions and the grave danger this poses to humanity in our speeches in Parliament, including on the Resource Sustainability Bill, Carbon Pricing Bill and Energy Conservation Act, to name a few.

In Parliament, WP MPs and NCMPs have raised concerns about climate change mitigation and adaptation. Among the suggestions put forward was one to look at climate change holistically and going beyond the emissions intensity indicator that forms Singapore’s first Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) under the Paris Agreement to reduce our Emissions Intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030, and to stabilise our emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

Other contributions in Parliament included questioning and calling for action on these issues –

  • Enhancing our drainage capacity and technologies to withstand possible higher levels of rainfall in future, to avoid flooding and minimize ponding.
  • Urban planning measures to reduce the impact of the Urban Heat Island effect so as to maintain liveability in Singapore’s highly urbanised environment. The Urban Heat Island effect refers to how certain types of building materials, technologies and urban plans can inadvertently lead to significantly higher temperatures in particular areas of a city.
  • The extent to which we maintain our terrestrial, freshwater, and marine biodiversity so that our nature reserves and marine parks can become sites for sustainable ecotourism and research.
  • The extent to which we improve and strengthen our local farming sector to better guard against the threat of unpredictable overseas weather patterns affecting our imported food supply.
  • The extent to which we adopt R&D to develop solutions in the fight against vector-borne diseases like dengue that may be worsened by climate change.
  • Publication and sharing of detailed data-driven climate change research produced by the Government to promote fit-for-purpose climate change solutions for Singapore

We have also asked the Government if they would consider setting a goal for the share of renewables’ contribution to total energy production in the longer-term and to publish data on the emissions trends of large emitters, for greater transparency and to allow the public to benchmark the carbon-intensity of our economic activities against global norms.

Increasing the share of renewables will give greater meaning to existing efforts, such as the drive to increase share of electric vehicles on the roads.  In fact, the Workers’ Party in Parliament has called for stronger measures to promote electric vehicles and for the government to specify a date in the long-term future for banning all fossil-fuel vehicles, as has been adopted in the UK and France.

The IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5°C published in October 2018 reported that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. Decarbonisation of Singapore’s economy will require efforts to increase our share of renewable energy in our total energy mix, while improving energy efficiency across industry and households. However, we should also remain cautious that legal requirements can result in unintended consequences such as a larger compliance burden on companies and government administration.

Environmental resilience is a big concern for Singapore. In his Budget Speech in 2019, Mr Pritam Singh spoke about planning infrastructure for climate change and rising sea levels in order to leave a sustainable Singapore for our future generations, following up from a Committee of Supply cut a few years earlier where he showed Parliament a video of the foreshore of a beach at the East Coast Park becoming inundated with seawater, highlighting the pressing nature of rising sea-levels.

In addition to sea level rise, water and heat stress, Singapore could also face potential disruptions to our food supply due to climate change and natural resource risks. WP NCMPs have raised concerns about mitigating rising food prices that fuel increases in cost of living and the need to address household food insecurity in Singapore. These concerns, and others, pose a significant risk to Singapore.

Beyond hard-engineering solutions, the WP also recognises the importance of soft-engineering solutions such as the rehabilitation of coastal environments, and the ecosystem services provided by Singapore’s coral reefs, mangroves, and mudflats. To this end, in 2018, the WP questioned the government on its plans for soft-engineering and on protecting these ecosystems which are themselves vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as sea level rise and ocean acidification, and to other human stressors such as land reclamation.

The Workers’ Party’s 2015 Manifesto proposed a Climate Change Risk Assessment to be performed and regularly updated by the National Climate Change Secretariat to understand the risk posed to Singapore by climate change. We acknowledge that work is being undertaken by the Singapore Government under the purview of the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS), under the Meteorological Service Singapore.

The Workers’ Party had also suggested that mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) be done for all development projects affecting green areas, to accompany the land use Masterplan and to be made permanently accessible in their entirety to members of the public. We have also called for urban planning to consciously take into account the importance of preserving green spaces, so as to mitigate the urban heat island effect, among other reasons.

The Workers’ Party actively welcomes dialogue with all Singaporeans with a view to leaving a sustainable Singapore for future generations of Singaporeans.