A motion proposing to declare climate change an emergency, and to accelerate and deepen Singapore’s efforts against climate change was passed with several amendments following a six-hour debate on Monday (1 February).
A private members’ motion was moved by six People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament (MPs): Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC), Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC), Ms Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) and Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
The six MPs called on the Government to take stronger action in mitigating and adapting to climate change and to embrace sustainability in Singapore’s development.
The motion read:
“That this House calls on the Government, in partnership with the private sector and the people of Singapore, to deepen and accelerate efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to embrace sustainability in the development of Singapore.”
Following that, the Workers’ Party (WP) MP Dennis Tan called on Parliament to declare climate change an emergency, proposing that the words “climate emergency” be added to the motion.
Mr Tan, who is the MP for Hougang SMC, also proposed that civil society be expressly included in the Government’s response to climate change.
Mr Tan explained that declaring an emergency will send a clear signal to the nation and the world at large that Singapore is serious in addressing this threat.
He added that it is also important for all stakeholders to co-operate in charting Singapore’s future of sustainable development, stressing the important role that civil society plays in guiding the nation’s response to climate change.
“They are surveyors of our ecosystems and stewards of our environment, many of whom engage in public education. It is due to their decades of commitment – not without significant pushback from the state in the past – that we have such areas as Sungei Buloh and Chek Jawa intact,” said Mr Tan.
After some speeches from various MPs who voiced their support for the motion, Ms Chan then proposed a further amendment to Mr Tan’s first amendment.
She said, “I propose — after the word “acknowledges” in Mr Tan’s first amendment — to leave out the words ‘a climate emergency’ and to insert the words ‘that climate change is a global emergency and a threat to mankind’.”
Ms Chan highlighted that it is insufficient to declare a climate emergency in Singapore alone, as the country makes up only 0.1 of global emissions annually.
Mr Tan agreed to this amendment—ultimately, it carried the same weight and effect as the amendment proposed by Mr Tan in the first place.
The motion, once amended, now reads:
“That this House acknowledges that climate change is a global emergency and a threat to mankind and calls on the Government, in partnership with the private sector, civil society and the people of Singapore, to deepen and accelerate efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to embrace sustainability in the development of Singapore.”
During the debate, various MPs spoke out to propose a myriad of ways for Singapore to do more in tackling climate change, including Louis Chua (Sengkang GRC) who stressed the need to set more ambitious targets for growing the proportion of the country’s renewable resources in energy generation.
Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam also suggested moving up the timelines for several programmes in the pipelines intended to rebuild the local economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the phasing out of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040.
Mr Giam proposed to bring the programme forward to 2030.