Greenwatch: An Open Letter to Political Parties
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
Dear Political Parties,
Firstly, congratulations are in order for the completion of a difficult GE 2020. We congratulate parties that did not win seats for a nonetheless clean and well-fought campaign. We congratulate the WP and PSP for their hard-earned MP and NCMP seats. We congratulate the PAP for the mandate they have received to form the next government.
Prior to the election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the COVID-19 health and economic crisis is "the crisis of a generation". For many in Singapore, and around the world, the climate crisis will be just as harmful, if not more.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 Special Report on Global Warming found that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is necessary to "reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well being". Impacts like rising sea levels, devastating droughts and increased proliferation of vector-borne diseases (like dengue) are already hurting and will continue to hurt Singapore.
The scientific consensus is that achieving 1.5 degrees would require halving carbon emissions by 2030, and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This year, Singapore committed only to halve carbon emissions by 2050.
During this election campaign, Greenwatch suggested policy proposals with our climate policy brief. We offered to work with political parties on building stronger climate policies. Ultimately, we evaluated each political party's response to the climate crisis. While some parties scored marginally better than others, all parties' response to the climate crisis were insufficient and not commensurate to its impact on Singapore.
With Neighbourhood Greenwatch, Singaporeans and voters raised climate policy issues directly to their candidates in online rallies, through personal communications, and during the limited face-to-face interactions that were available. Besides current voters, many followers of the Greenwatch campaign are young people, aged 17-21. They could not vote in this election, but they will be voting in the next one. You have seen our faces, read our messages, and heard our voices. You know what our expectations are.
For too long, the environment has been seen as a peripheral issue, not serious enough to warrant concerted policy efforts. Prior to the election, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli suggested that "everyone who complains... about the petrochemical industry; don't use your handphone, don't go around transported with all these fuels that you complain about".
We entreat officeholders to no longer engage in such characterisations: nobody is suggesting an immediate ceasure of industrial activity, but environmentalists and the Minister recognise that ‘business-as-usual’ is untenable, and so the alternative reasonably lies somewhere in between. Public discourse is necessary to decide what that alternative is, and we should certainly support a robust and serious discussion on this significant issue.
But the climate crisis has often been treated as though it is insignificant; kicked down the road rather than dealt with; unimportant when compared to 'bread and butter issues’. This could not be further from the truth. For Greenwatch, and for voters, the climate crisis is about our bread, and our butter; our homes, and our jobs; our families, and our children; our present, and our future. We will take climate action seriously, and we will be voting like it.