Singapore needs to take responsibility and lead the region in ‘green’ effort

Clarence Dorai & Sarah Sidek

Record temperatures, droughts, wildfires, floods, melting polar caps all drive home the need for urgent action on climate change.

This was the conversation at the recently held CALD Youth Climate Change Seminar in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia which we attended.

It was a meeting of youths from 10 countries to examine how youth leaders could effectively communicate climate change issues to their respective communities and political parties.

Discussions between international delegates and case studies elucidated the fact that ongoing environmentally unfriendly practices such as deforestation and over-harvesting in the region stemmed mainly from greed and the desire to push GDP growth.

For Singapore, our National Climate Change Strategy (2012) indicates that economic growth remains the Government’s top priority. The oil industry makes up 5% of Singapore’s GDP. Hence, it looks unlikely that we will switch to renewable energy in a meaningful way any time soon.

However, this does not mean that we can continue down this road. We are responsible for our actions and contributions to climate change, and we must act accordingly.

Generally speaking, in the region, there is a disconnect between environmental goals and human development or social goals. These need to be integrated with economic goals in order for there to be any chance at long-term sustainable development.

Developing economies cannot afford to go the well-worn Western route of industrialization – we’ve all seen what that has done to the environment, and we are seeing it happen right here in Southeast Asia – typhoons, forest fires, floods, the haze, etc.

We cannot escape the fact that we are part of nature, we must, therefore, be concerned about human health and the lives that are being lost. We require Earth’s ecological goods and services, and no amount of economic growth can replace what is being lost.

The problem with climate change is that its effects are not instantaneous, making it difficult to convey the urgency of the situation. It has been suggested that there may be a 40-year time lag between cause and effect.

This means that the effects we are seeing today are from emission levels in the 1970s – and we know that carbon emissions have nearly tripled since then.

We must spread the word and educate our communities about the dangers of environmental degradation. The challenge is to communicate the importance of immediate action to members of society, since it is only with a concerted, cooperative effort that we have a chance of making a difference.

In this age, we are fortunate to have new and social media at our disposal; information at our fingertips. With such tools as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Path and various other up and coming new media, we are able to effectively create awareness and more importantly educate the public on the reality of climate change and its effects.

With the sheer volume of youths connected to the web we are able to easily reach out, educate and encourage efforts in thinking ‘green’ and taking steps to save the environment. The youth are after all, the future.


Clarence Dorai & Sarah Sidek are members of the Young Democrats.

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