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Lee Hsien Loong tells the world that Singapore is a developing country.

The ability of countries to reduce their emissions will vary, says PM Lee

This is Singapore's national statement to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, delivered by PM Lee to the international community.

Lee Hsien Loong

Mr President

First, I wish to thank you and the Government and People of the Kingdom of Denmark for the gracious hospitality extended to us.

Climate change being a very serious global issue, calls for an urgent global response. It requires the commitment and involvement of all countries, both developed and developing.

Developed countries must take the lead to substantially reduce their emissions both in the short and long term. They must also ensure adequate means to help developing countries to implement urgently needed adaptation measures without compromising sustainable economic growth.

Developing countries face pressing priorities such as alleviating poverty, fighting diseases and growing their economies. Without growth, they will not have the resources needed to undertake measures to combat climate change. But developing countries too have a responsibility to reduce their carbon emissions, in accordance with their respective capabilities, national circumstances and developmental priorities, as the dangerous effects of climate change will affect us all severely.

This is why the Convention calls for climate change to be addressed in line with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. What we have in “common” is the goal and responsibility to mitigate carbon emissions. How each of us does that must remain “differentiated” because in reality, our respective capabilities and individual circumstances differ.

The ability of countries to reduce their emissions will vary. For some, limited access to alternative energy severely limits on their domestic mitigation potential. Others have already taken early actions to promote energy efficiency or to maximise the use of their alternative energy resources, and have limited scope for further savings. These limitations and constraints must be acknowledged in a meaningful way.

Singapore’s Contributions

Being a small, low-lying island and the second most densely populated nation in the world, Singapore has always taken the environment seriously. Since independence 44 years ago, we have taken actions which have significant slowed our emissions growth. These include increasing our green cover, limiting our car population, and switching to natural gas for electricity generation. As a result we have significantly improved our carbon intensity, which by 2006 was approximately 30% below 1990 levels.

In spite of these early actions and our severe lack of alternative energy options, Singapore will, in the context of a legally binding global agreement, undertake to further reduce our emissions growth by 16% below BAU by 2020. Given our constraints, and the fact that all our actions will be voluntary and domestically funded, this is a substantial commitment which will entail significant economic and social costs. All sectors of our economy will have to make considerable adjustments.

In announcing our target, we join a number of our fellow developing countries in contributing to a strong agreement in Copenhagen. The developed countries must respond in the same spirit with significant cuts in emissions which take account of their historical responsibility and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Climate change will preoccupy the world for decades to come. Singapore is committed to addressing this issue over the long haul. We must adopt a pragmatic and sustainable approach, doing what is practical and sensible, while being mindful of the very real costs and trade-offs.

Understandably, much focus in the current negotiations has been on the pledging of mitigation targets by countries. Many more challenges lie ahead. The success of any global agreement ultimately depends on its implementation. All countries must implement their commitments and actions in good faith and deliver on their targets and goals. This will require careful planning, strong leadership and political resolve to carry through the necessary mitigation measures.

At this conference, we have a collective responsibility to make significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, knowing that the outcome will not be the final or complete solution to climate change, and that over the next decades countries will have to discuss and agree on further steps to manage the problem. To this end, Singapore will continue to give full support to the UNFCCC in reaching a legally binding global agreement to address climate change.

Thank you.