Businesses in Singapore were encouraged to adopt sustainable low carbon practices on Wednesday evening at a session on climate change and the economy organised by the European Union and the missions of other EU member states such as France, the UK, Germany, Belgium and Romania.
With COP21 – also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference – coming up at the end of the year, the European Union is hoping to raise as much awareness as possible on the issue of climate change and the need for action.
“We must act before it’s too late,” said EU Ambassador to Singapore Dr Michael Pulch, adding that climate change “does not recognise borders” and presents risks to the security of many countries around the world.
For the first time after two decades of negotiations, COP21 hopes to achieve a legally binding agreement in which all 195 participating countries reach a consensus of keeping global warming below 2˚C.
Acknowledging that the goal would require a “tough balancing act”, Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng, Singapore’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change emphasised the need for trust as one of the key ingredients of COP21, and said that “conscious effort and decisive changes in behaviour” would be necessary across the board.
However, with population and economic growth weighing on the minds of many governments, corporations and organisations, the challenge is to educate societies so that people stop seeing climate change as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic development, but realise that sustainable practices benefit the economy in the long run.
Sustainability and low carbon activities are not without their attractions for businesses. As countries undertake measures to maximise energy efficiency, Henri Waisman for the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project pointed out that businesses will find opportunities in developing low carbon technology as well as other innovations that would be very much sought after.
“Companies have a responsibility to stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution,” said Elaine Tan of WWF Singapore.
Kwek Leng Joo, deputy chairman of City Developments Ltd, said her corporation was already working with tenants, suppliers and consumers in adopting sustainable “reduce, reuse and recycle” practices, but that more work is needed in instilling future generations with an environmentally-friendly mindset.