"Adverse impacts from human-caused climate change will continue to intensify ."
An Asymmetric Crisis
The latest IPCC Sixth Assessment Report notes that “widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred”, impacting both nature and people. The World Meteorological Organization forecasts that we will witness a year with record high temperatures before 2028 - with a good chance that the 1.5℃ threshold mentioned in the Paris Agreement will be passed. More alarmingly, vulnerable communities who contribute the least to climate change are the ones most adversely affected — this asymmetry is why we believe that fighting for climate justice is essential.
Flash floods in Pakistan, more severe heatwaves and droughts in India, and the world’s longest-lasting tropical storm, Cyclone Freddy, hitting Mozambique and Madagascar are all indicators of extreme weather patterns that have worsened due to climate change, particularly in developing countries. These have severe impacts on agricultural production and food security, especially in countries where these exports are a key sector of the economy. Faced with hostile weather patterns, subsistence farmers suffer as their output becomes insufficient for them to live off on. Moreover, these affected countries lack the infrastructure to appropriately deal with the consequences of such crises, and are being denied the funds needed to do so.
Moreover, climate change will take a toll on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of human society. Displacement of climate refugees to neighbouring countries may cause social strife, while a rise in infectious diseases will increase mortality rates in underdeveloped countries that do not have ready access to effective medicine or healthcare. The urgent need to act now to avert the crisis has never been clearer.
Damaged mud houses after heavy monsoon rains; Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province
(Fida Hussain | Afp | Getty Images)
Cyclone Freddy devastating Malawi (Thoko Chikondi/AP)
Firefighters struggle against bushfires fuelled by strong wind in New South Wales, Australia. (Saeed Khan/AFP)
An aerial shot of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian. Dorian claimed at least 70 lives and amounted to US$3.4 billion in damages. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Impact of the Climate Crisis in Singapore
Singapore has not been spared from the effects from climate change — in fact, we are heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world due to the urban heat island effect where the built environment traps and generates more heat. Singapore’s high humidity also makes high temperatures potentially dangerous as the body is unable to cool down by sweating. Increased flooding, especially in low-lying urban areas, due to a combination of heavy rainfall, high tides and drainage problems have routinely caused major disruptions to traffic and movement.
Food security is also increasingly becoming a cause of concern, given how import-reliant we are. News of how shortages in neighbouring countries such as chicken from Malaysia and palm oil from Indonesia that led to bans on exports of said products to Singapore serve as a reminder of the vulnerability of our supply lines. We cannot pretend to be immune from the effects of the climate crisis, even with plans to build sea walls and reclaim land for barriers.
Headlines from WION, The Straits Times, ChannelNewsAsia and the National Environment Agency describing recent heatwaves and their aftereffects
Are We Doing Enough?
The SG Green Plan 2030 is not adequate in addressing all of the challenges above. Singapore’s contribution to global carbon emissions might be small, but that is no reason to shirk responsibility. Even with the net zero target announced in 2023, our climate action is still rated “critically insufficient”, partly because there is still a rise in emissions till 2030, and no clear goal to phase out the fossil fuel industries that make up a large proportion of our emissions.
0.11% is the figure most often touted to describe Singapore’s insignificant footprint. However, as we have demonstrated in this article, the truth is more complex. Singapore is the 8th highest carbon emitter per capita, similar in range to petrostates, despite us not being oil producers. Singapore has benefitted for decades from cheap migrant labour while extracting natural resources from our surrounding neighbours through acts of deforestation and sand mining. And lastly, Singapore’s wealth was built partly through becoming a hub for petrochemicals as well as a maritime and aviation hub — all of which are fossil fuel-intensive industries. Given all this, it is only appropriate that we contribute back to the climate aid of our more vulnerable neighbours, instead of potentially claiming for such aid ourselves.
We cannot continue to speak of progress in decarbonisation when there are still continued partnerships with big oil companies in Singapore. One troubling aspect of this partnership is the endowments that local universities receive from fossil fuel companies, and the universities’ lack of transparency in revealing the exact percentages of their exposure to the fossil fuel industry.
We know what we need to do to avert this crisis, as detailed in our demands. But how do we get there? We believe people power is the answer, as it has been across our history and in many other countries. The global climate strikes in 2019 pushed governments and companies to take climate action more seriously, and we need to keep working to ensure that the green transition is also a just and fair one. There are many ways to contribute to the movement that don’t all require protesting in the streets — join us in whatever way you can!
Singapore has developing country status in global conventions, hence could possibly be eligible as a future recipient of monies from climate funds.
(Stock Image/Ingo Joseph/Pexels)
Students For A Fossil Free Future; a body of students seeking to address the opaque endowments local universities receive from the fossil fuel industry
These catastrophic events are happening in a world only warmed by 1⁰C.
The Carbon Clock
The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change's (MCC) Carbon Clock has been developed in line with the IPCC's 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
The Carbon Clock shows how much carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C.