SG Climate Rally: The People in Crisis — Open Letter
This letter summarises the key demands made at SG Climate Rally 2021: The People in Crisis. Please help to write in to our ministers to call urgently for a bold, multi-ministry response to the climate crisis. People power works, and your voice will make a difference.
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Masagos_Zulkifli@msf.gov.sg; Lawrence_Wong@mof.gov.sg
Subject: Urgent Call for Bold Multi-Ministry Response to the Climate Crisis
Dear Minister Grace Fu, Minister Tan See Leng;, Minister Desmond Lee, Minister Chan Chun Sing, Minister Masagos Zulkifl, and Minister Lawrence Wong;
At the SG Climate Rally 2021: The People In Crisis, we heard from many people about how the climate crisis is affecting their lives right now. People whose health is affected because their flats are too cramped and they can't pay for air-con. People who want to work in green jobs with a living wage and good working conditions. People who have suffered through the pandemic and who know that things will get worse if we continue to act so slowly on climate change. Moreover, these are issues that concern multiple ministries and not just the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment alone.
We know that Singapore is heating up faster than other countries because our buildings trap heat, making it up to 7 degrees hotter at night. We know that Southeast Asia is one of the most at-risk regions when it comes to climate change. Are we prepared if a heat wave were to happen right now? Are we prepared to house more people in hospitals if heat injuries were to spike right now? Are we prepared, right now, to make room for climate refugees if they have to flee their homes?
The climate crisis will change our world forever, it will go down in history. Which side of history do we want to be on? If this is indeed a whole-of-nation issue, why isn’t the whole nation involved in decision-making processes? Closed-door consultation sessions can be helpful, but nothing beats more open-door mass town halls about policies concerning the climate crisis as they are of grave concern to all of us.
We agree that a green transition that is fair to all cannot be achieved by the government alone. It is indeed impossible for any one person, for any one political party, for any one task force to be able to completely tackle the issues related to the climate crisis; and it is undeniably unfair to expect just a few government leaders to do so on their own. And that’s why this rally is called “The People in Crisis.” Because to tackle this crisis, we need a ground-up movement that includes a diversity of views, a diversity of voices, a diversity of people. — especially people who are the most vulnerable , who are already feeling the impacts right at this moment. These people have done the least to cause this crisis, and it is high time that their voices are heard over the large companies and firms that continue to resist higher taxes and that continue to take so much from our planet and so much from so many communities.
At the rally, Marlina who has lived in her rental flat for 11 years says that the heat in her home has gotten much worse. She worries that the worsening heat means an increase in heat-related illnesses such as eczema and heat exhaustion, and as rental flat residents with low wages, she worries about her community’s ability to keep up with medical expenses, especially low-income foreigners who are not eligible for subsidised healthcare. Liyana shared that she hopes lower-income and housing-insecure Singapore residents are not forced to pay for the climate crisis in the form of higher living costs and taxes, and that those who are actually responsible are held accountable. Executive secretary of the UWPI, Karthikeyan shared that his biggest worry as a unionist is whether workers in petroleum companies can successfully transition to good green jobs. For Bianca, it’s important that Singapore does more in its capacity as the largest investor in Myanmar and member of ASEAN while respecting Myanmar’s sovereign right as a nation, to restore civilian rule in the country to get it back on track on climate goals. Myanmar is one of the countries that are most highly vulnerable to climate change in the world. Firdaus also talked about his Orang Laut family members whose homes were turned into petrochemical sites and are losing what’s remaining of their way of life. Paul Tambyah gave a mini lecture on how deforestation and biodiversity loss leads to the rise of zoonotic viruses from Nipah to Lyme and COVID-19, and that we need to learn to live with nature around us, while Zakir spoke about how migrant workers will also be heavily affected by the climate crisis.
Rally participants including PAP MP Wan Rizal held up their creative signs on Zoom during SG Climate Rally: The People Crisis.
Prior to this rally, a coalition of environmental organisations and individuals came together to draft a statement with 18 recommendations for how to equitably and urgently tackle the climate crisis (tinyurl.com/sgyouthcop26). While the statement has been acknowledged by the government, many of the specific recommendations have not, let alone materialised into official policy. Most of the speakers’ concerns are also addressed in these recommendations.
I support these recommendations and believe that it is in the interest of everyone in Singapore, the region, and the world, if they are all taken up as policy. Where the government cannot accept the recommendations, I hope that you can share with us the reason(s) for why not. The climate crisis is after all also an economic, labour, housing, educational, social, and familial issue as well. It’s time we start treating it as such. Before it’s too late.
Your sincerely, [Name]