Climate Change

Climate Change is one of the key problems facing the environment today. Slowing down the rate of global warming is at the forefront of many national planning and development agendas today.

What is Climate Change?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), refers to Climate Change as a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods [1] The most noticeable and direct impact of climate change observed in recent years is Global Warming, which refers to a noticeable increase in global surface temperatures. The recent warming trend is now acknowledged to be a result of anthropogenic activitiy, such as the emossion of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, through the burning of fossil fuels [2].
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Singapore and Climate Change

(Information is courtesy www.climatechange.sg)

The Situation Today

  • Despite being a very small nation, Singapore has amongst the largest Carbon Dioxide (CO2)emissions in the world. Singapore also has a very high Average Energy consumption per capita, at 3403 kg oil equivalent per capita.
  • Singapore has been a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 1997, and ratified the Kyoto protocol in April 2006.
  • Carbon emissions in Singapore have been steadily increasing since the increase of industrial activity in the 1970s.
  • The emissions from liquids (petroleum) were slowly decreased in recent years due to a shift from a petroleum based Energy source to natural gas.
  • However the exponential increase of cars on the roads in Singapore is resulting in a further increase of liquid emissions.

Impacts of Climate Change on Singapore

High vulnerability to impacts

  • Increased frequency and intensity of rainfall and tropical storms
  • Higher risk of coastal erosion and flooding as a result of rising sea level
  • Loss of water resources from a hotter, drier weather and/or contamination of reservoirs due to saltwater intrusion
  • Resurgence/increase of diseases including dengue fever and other tropical diseases
  • Higher rate of reoccurrence of the annual haze blanketing the region since 1997
  • Loss of local biodiversity
  • Economical impacts on Singapore as a result of Global crisis in the region and worldwide
  • Long term safety issues from a rise in environmental refugees in the region

Sea level rise and Coastal erosion

  • Surrounded by sea and almost entirely flat, Singapore is without doubt vulnerable to the rising sea levels
  • A substantial amount of land has been claimed from the sea, and these areas are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels
  • Singapore highest point is a hill rising 165 meters, above sea level. Most of the business-end of Singapore - its airport, its business district and its busy container ports, lie less than two meters above sea level.
  • Coastal erosion as a consequence of sea level rise will become a problem for Singapore
  • Recorded past extreme high tide events provide an idea of the kind of threat that Singapore will have to deal with.

Infectious Diseases

  • One of the serious consequences of Climate Change in Singapore will be a significant increase in the number of vector born diseases
  • With rising temperatures, more humidity and more rain the conditions will become more profitable for mosquitoes to develop
  • Singapore is already experiencing a sharp increase in the number of reported Dengue Fever Cases

Air Quality

  • As temperature rise, the frequency and severity of haze events as a result of more frequent fires in nearby countries is expected to significantly increase
  • Air quality will also be affected through an increase in the severity and frequency of smog events as a result of a combination of increased temperatures and the number of cars on the roads
  • Ozone related death and repiratory deseases is expected to significantly increase due to deteriorating air quality
  • Youngsters and the elderly are likely to be most affected by the changes

Water Resources

  • Singapore has limited fresh water supplies
  • Despite predictions of increased rainfall, rising temperatures will mean more loss by evaporation
  • Rising sea level could cause salty intrusions into the water
  • Supplies and contaminate them
  • Flooding may become a problem in some areas of the city (Singapore has however already started to take active measures to limit such disasters)

Loss of Biodiversity

  • Singapore is home to numerous species of endemic plants and animals
  • Many of these organisms will be at increased risks of extinction solely as a result of Global Warming which will add on to the already intense pressures from development and pollution in Singapore
  • In an attempt to protect species at risk, a red list of endangered species in Singapore has been put in place: http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/concepts/redlist.htm
  • The overall aim of the Red List is to convey the urgency and scale of conservation problems to the public and policy makers, and to motivate the global community to try to reduce species extinctions.

Mitigation Measures

What Needs to be Done

  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuel and develop low carbon technologies
  • Develop technologies to remove GHG from the atmosphere
  • Develop technologies which may help to cool the Planet (artificial dimming)
  • Prepare to adapt to a changing environment
  • Research on the mechanisms of Climate Change (feedback effects, ice dynamic etc…)
  • Closely monitor the evolution of Climate Change impacts
  • Educate the population on the risks and contributions

What Corporations can Do

  • Corporations have the responsibility to conduct their business in a sustainable way
  • Purchase and produce environment friendly products which are Energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint
  • Construct environmentally friendly buildings and office space which have a low carbon footprint
  • Implement environment management systems and practices within the workforce
  • Report environmental impacts to the community (CSR)
  • Educate staff on good environmental behavior and on Climate Change issues
  • Support environmental movements and groups which are active in the fight against Climate Change

What Governments can Do

  • Corporations have the responsibility to conduct their business in a sustainable way
  • Purchase and produce environment friendly products which are Energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint
  • Construct environmentally friendly buildings and office space which have a low carbon footprint
  • Implement environment management systems and practices within the workforce
  • Report environmental impacts to the community (CSR)
  • Educate staff on good environmental behavior and on Climate Change issues
  • Support environmental movements and groups which are active in the fight against Climate Change

What YOU can do

  • Conserve water, electricity and resources in your day-to-day life.
  • Stay informed of local and global efforts to fight climate change - there is a vast amount of information available on the internet. Sites such as TreeHugger and WorldChanging are good places for everyday information on green living.
  • Planting more trees is a significant contribution to slowing down global warming. Check out The Garden City Fund or Sponsor A Tree to see how you can plant a tree today.
  • Green your lifestyle - buy eco-labelled products, drive a hybrid car instead of a fuel-inefficient one and make every effort to reduce your net impact on the environment.
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