From left: Oliver Chua Rui, 11; Ellen Wu, 17; Karen Sim; Komal Lad, 19.

Young environmentalists urge Singaporeans to band together to demand a systemic change from the government- SG Climate Rally

Speaking at the inaugural SG Climate Rally which was attended by thousands of Singaporeans and permanent residents, 19-year old Komal Lad declared to a cheering crowd, “I find it ridiculous that I’m encouraged to practice the same old steps to fight climate change that I was taught a decade ago.”

The year 2 NUS student, who is the foundering organiser of SG Climate Rally, delivered a passionate speech about climate change at the rally, specifically calling on Singaporeans to band together to make their voices heard on this issue.

Ms Lad said, “To protect Singapore, we need to take a bigger step forward. Only possible if everyone pushes for bolder climate policies in Singapore.”

She echoed the sentiments shared by other speakers including Ms Karen Sim, a professional in the sustainability industry and lifelong conservationist. Ms Sim said in her speech that she was dismayed by the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally speech in which he talked about how Singapore will ‘adapt’ to climate change but said nothing on what the country would do to prevent a climate disaster.

Ms Sim said in her speech that while she is glad that measures are being taken to protect the island-state from rising sea levels as a result of global warming, she does not want to live in ‘fortress Singapore’.

She elaborated, “When the world continues to heat up, people in other parts of the world continue to suffer and die from the effects of a collapsed ecological and climate system. No country exists in a vacuum. It is naïve to think our island can survive if the ecological system around us collapses.”

Ms Sim said she was fearful about speaking at Speaker’s Corner and worried that she might be put on some sort of blacklist. Despite that, she decided that a climate disaster was scarier.

“Systems never change without people taking action or asking for change,” she added, urging Singaporeans to speak up if they “want a world that is living and not dead”.

Another youngster who spoke at the event at Hong Lim Park was 17-year old student environmentalist Ellen Wu.

Ms Wu talked about how she has spent most of her life worrying about the environment, even when she didn’t quite understand climate change. Determined to make a difference, Ms Wu spoke about how she tried hard to live a greener life by recycling and carrying around reusable cutlery.

But for all her efforts, she still felt guilty at having to use paper for school and buy school t-shirts most probably made in sweatshops”. Ms Wu said, “I felt guilty for existing”.

Using her guilt as a source of motivation, Ms Wu said she tried to live a zero-waste life the way she’s seen environmentalists online do, but noted that it was impossible to live like that in an inherently consumerist system like Singapore.

Ms Wu then recited the widely repeated statistic that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. She noted that it will take more than individual action to create change – echoing what other speakers had said.

She also called for a systemic change and stressed that this can only happen if people come together to put pressure on business and the government to take more drastic measures. “

The youngest speaker at the rally was 11-year old Oliver Chua Rui. The primary school student lamented that many of his peers either don’t know and don’t care about the issue of climate change or that they have no idea what to do about it.

He said, “We can’t really comprehend the impact of drought, floods, hunger, and malnutrition.”

The young man then said that children do have the power to influence their parents on climate change. But first, they need to be educated on the subject. He proposed that the government introduce a subject in school that focuses on the environment, something that would teach children not only facts about climate change but also that their collective efforts can make an impact. Consequently, these children can influence their parents and later on, their own children.

“Let’s teach our parents a lesson for once,” declared Oliver.

You can listen to each of their speeches and more on TOC’s Facebook page.