Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat, announced in his Budget 2020 speech on Tuesday (18 Feb) that a total of S$5 billion would be set aside to finance a newly introduced Coastal and Flood Protection fund.
The fund prepares Singapore to initiate research and formulate action plans to subvert potential risks that may arise due to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. Mr Heng explained that the funds would be subsequently increased whenever Singapore’s fiscal situation allows for it.
Making a reference to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech during the National Day Rally in August, where the Premier announced some S$100 billion, needs to be set aside for the purpose. Mr Heng emphasized that it is essential that financial resources are allocated for this cause.
“We must have the resolve to deal head-on with the existential threat of rising sea levels,” explained Mr Heng.
Mr Heng added that Singapore’s preparation plans in the event of rising sea levels, would be further discussed at the Committee of Supply debate, where the Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli would elaborate further.
“I spoke about how we are committing to global efforts, managing our carbon constraints, and building a sustainable Singapore, together. We must try hard and we will do our part,” Mr Heng said. “But the course of climate change depends on the commitment of all nations. The risk of rising sea levels remains significant. So our fourth strategic thrust is to prepare our island for rising sea levels.”
Mr Heng added, “To deal with climate change, we have to foster a climate of change in our community – where everyone, whether as an individual, as a business leader, or as a community leader, makes conscious decisions to lower our carbon footprint,” he said.
One important measure, according to the DPM, would be a Government initiative to tackle climate change by introducing incentives to help lower-income households to purchase and use energy-efficient appliances.
Another attempt is to add 45 to 60 per cent more greenery to the exterior of HDB estates and in new housing developments.
“Residents are contributing through the community garden movement. Today, more than 36,000 gardening enthusiasts are nurturing over 1,500 community gardens island-wide,” he said. “These gardens keep our shared neighborhood vibrant, and bring people closer together.”
Elaborating on the HDB endeavor, Mr Heng said a new programme called the HDB Green Towns programme would be implemented. Among others, the programme would primarily focus on addressing issues such as reducing energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns.