One month post-rally: Has our message been heard?
Over 2,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents gathered on 21 September for the inaugural SG Climate Rally at Hong Lim Park. The rally was held to urge the government to take stronger action in mitigating the climate crisis.
One of the event highlights was the “Postcard to My MP” booth, where attendees could pen hand-written postcards to their elected representatives. The team collected 418 postcards, each one bearing Singaporean residents’ fears, hopes and pleas surrounding the climate crisis.
Our rationale for organising “Postcard to My MP” and individually sending them to each representative was to provide an avenue for constituents to air their concerns over the climate crisis to their individual MPs. Accordingly, constituents could then hear from their MPs about how these concerns would be taken up by their representatives.
After the rally, we sorted the postcards into envelopes addressed to 80 individual MPs. We also sent digital scans of the postcards to your inboxes, to ensure that each MP had the opportunity to respond directly.
One month later, we have received statements from Minister Desmond Lee, on behalf of the government, and from MP Louis Ng, on behalf of PAP Members of Parliament. We have also received five email replies from individual MPs. We received no responses from opposition MPs. We have attached screenshots of these responses for constituents’ reference.
SG Climate Rally is heartened by the five MPs who have replied to the postcards, and would like to thank Minister Desmond Lee and MP Louis Ng for their statements. On behalf of your constituents, we thank you for acknowledging their concerns and for the work you have done to forward climate action. Your support is essential if we are to respond to this crisis effectively.
SG Climate Rally hopes to see more MPs follow suit! Going forward, SG Climate Rally will be keeping up with each MP’s commitment and ambition on systemic climate change policies.
We would also like to reiterate that the most meaningful way our country can address the climate crisis is to: Slash absolute greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2020, halve by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050.
These targets must be met if we hope to avoid irreversible ecological devastation. They are grounded in the recommendations published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their special report last year.
Singapore has the potential to meet these targets and secure a liveable future for its people and its neighbours. Our collective concerns must graduate from waste and recycling campaigns to decarbonisation and divestment from polluting industries. An extended version of our Calls to Action can be found at tinyurl.com/SGCRCTA.
We are excited to continue working alongside members of parliament and parliamentary office holders to generate political will and construct strategic pathways for a low-carbon future. That said, our movement comprises regular citizens with full-time commitments, who are not equipped to take on the onus of providing all the technical solutions to the climate crisis. There are, after all, significant institutional resources and policy think tanks that can be leveraged to formulate and implement emissions reduction measures. We look forward to working with more of you all!
Finally, we would like to convey sincere appreciation for your responsiveness and your service to the community. Few countries have elected representatives who readily avail themselves to constituents and advocacy groups. We are thankful for the opportunity to co-create a stable future for our home.
SG Climate Rally
Response from Minister Desmond Lee, on behalf of all parliamentary office holders
Almost a month ago, I attended the SG Climate Rally. Since then, my colleagues and I have received many thoughtful suggestions from the Rally participants in the form of postcards, urging systematic action and bold moves to address the climate crisis.
We are very encouraged by the heartfelt concern for our environment and the world that our future generations will inherit.
The Government takes climate change very seriously. It is an existential issue, on several fronts.
Wildlife populations and habitats are under threat.
Rising temperatures, severe drought and weather changes are challenging our global food and agricultural industries, affecting food security and water availability.
At the National Day Rally in August, PM highlighted the threat of rising sea levels, which will require long-term infrastructural plans on Singapore’s part.
We have proactively taken some steps to mitigate climate change.
In the early 2000s, we switched from using fuel oil to natural gas to generate electricity. We now generate around 95% of our electricity from natural gas, which produces the least carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated, amongst all fossil fuels. This has substantially reduced our emissions growth in the last decade.
We committed almost S$1 billion under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan 2020 for urban sustainability, tackling Singapore’s energy, water, land and liveability challenges.
Meanwhile, we are exploring new technologies including decarbonisation solutions like carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and clean hydrogen to decarbonise our industry and power generation.
We are looking at tighter standards for energy efficient green buildings and solar energy capture.
We are considering importing renewable energy generated in regional countries, which will let us decarbonise our power generation and overcome our land constraints.
Can we, and must we do more? Yes.
Many have shared their views and suggestions in the National Climate Change Secretariat’s (NCCS) public consultation exercise on Singapore’s low carbon emissions strategy beyond 2030.
We look forward to working with private industry and businesses, civil society and the people sector, to do more together to tackle climate change. Each of us can take immediate practical steps too, for example by reducing our waste and going plastic-free. Our collective responsibility demands no less.
Response from Member of Parliament Louis Ng on behalf of all PAP MPs
Hi SG Climate Rally Organisers,
Thank you for your email and for your commitment towards making a difference.
I met many of you at the SG Climate Rally and thereafter on 8 October 2019 and was energised by the passion and sense of responsibility, which have spurred you on to champion the cause of climate change.
Thank you for your letter and for sending the postcards written by those who attended the SG Climate Change Rally. My fellow PAP Members of Parliament have also received the same. Allow me to respond collectively, on their behalf.
We share your hopes and concerns. Like you, we are concerned about climate change and focus on different areas. The suggestions in the postcards reinforce our views that actions and changes we have been making at our constituencies were necessary and steps in the right direction. We will continue to make these changes and to speak up.
Like you, we understand the importance of mitigation measures to tackle climate change. Hence, at the community level, environmentally friendly efforts by my fellow MPs are focused on different areas such to mitigate climate change. This include raising awareness through education and hands-on action, reducing use of single-use items, promoting a green environment, reducing food waste and e-waste management and also very importantly minimising carbon emissions.
To raise awareness on climate change, there have been several initiatives which were launched island-wide, and these have been done through exhibitions, beach clean-up initiatives, observing Earth Hour and events intended to educate and encourage upcycling and recycling. These efforts emphasise the importance of reducing waste generation and serves as a reminder that everyone in the community can play our part and no effort is too small. In my constituency at Nee Soon East, we embarked on a Zero Waste Masterplan early this year and other areas like Kembangan Chai Chee have embarked on similar initiatives.
An important step that many constituencies has taken, is the move away from providing bottled water at community events and meetings. Attendees and participants at events are now encouraged and reminded to bring their reusable water bottles so they can fill up using water dispensers. Some retail outlets have also joined the cause and stopped providing plastic bags and straws at their outlets. The work has begun and we will continue to work with retailers to keep the momentum going.
“Greening” of our living spaces has also taken on a renewed focus, most recently with constituencies using car park rooftops for farming. Examples of these include the community farms at Nee Soon East and the setting up of the Citiponics farm at B/700 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6.
Food waste recycling machines and eco-digesters have been in operations at a number of locations, such as at the 628 Market and Food Centre at Ang Mo Kio, Ci Yuan Hawker Centre and Our Tampines Hub. Some constituencies have also established ways to reduce food wastage through broadcast using Telegram or Whatsapp groups. In this way, available food is redistributed instead of being discarded.
Progressively, we have also been selective in our selection of infrastructural systems to ensure energy efficient systems are selected to minimise carbon emissions. Initiatives such as the installation of energy efficient infrastructure such as solar panels and motion sensors, LED lighting at HDB blocks and open spaces, half-flush buttons at restrooms, and provision of necessary infrastructure to enable electric car sharing in residential estates have been implemented in many constituencies such as Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade GRCs, and Bukit Panjang and Sengkang West SMCs. As a first mover, Bukit Panjang CC also had solar panels installed on its CC rooftops.
Thank you for speaking up for the generations ahead of you. My fellow MPs and I have always believed that speaking up is a good start and it starts with each of us as individuals. I have also always believed, that as activists of a cause, we should always be prepared to be part of the solution.
I look forward to continue working together with you and your team.
MP for Nee Soon GRC
Response from Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak
You can refer to my speeches at Budget debate every year as I am a strong advocate of climate protection.
Response from Member of Parliament Ong Teng Koon
I am a big supporter of fighting climate change and sustainability efforts. I made a recent speech in Parliament on the Resource Sustainability Bill supporting this cause. I have also posted regularly on my Instagram regarding sustainability issues. I wish you well in your efforts and will cheer you on.
Response from Member of Parliament Christopher De Souza
Thank you for taking the time to pen an email, and for arranging the post cards to be sent. They were well received. Climate Change is an issue I am concerned with and have raised in Parliament – and I will continue to do so.
Response from Member of Parliament Goh Chok Tong
Thank you for forwarding the post-cards from some of your concerned participants. As MP for Marine Parade, climate change is an existential question for the estate. Marine Parade was reclaimed from the sea. We do not want the sea to reclaim it with a vengeance!
I whole-heartedly support your activism to create an awareness of the dire consequences posed by climate change and global warming, and to mobilise others to act on this important issue.
Response from Minister Ong Ye Kung
Thank you. Will ask for them and go through. There are many opportunities to undertake projects in Sembawang.