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Make sustainability a part of what it means to be Singaporean: Desmond Lee

This article was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 27, 2021. ST Photo: Ariffin Jamar

 

Singaporeans must adopt sustainability as a core value if it is to realise the country's commitment to tackling the climate crisis, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Friday (Aug 27).

The efforts require the people to make sustainability a part of what it means to be Singaporean, to match the resolve and deep shift in Singapore's culture needed to make it work, he added.

"Just as multiculturalism is one of our defining traits, so too should sustainability be so ingrained in us in our future generations that it informs our actions and decisions, and the kind of society that we strive to be," he said.

Mr Lee was speaking at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum, an annual flagship event of the National University of Singapore Students' Political Association.

Describing the climate crisis as one of the biggest challenges faced by Singapore, he pointed to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released earlier in August, which warned of the dangers of global warming.

"They are not just theoretical. You can see them today," said Mr Lee. "Here in Singapore, we've seen heavy rains and flash floods lately. And as a low-lying island, many parts of our country would literally be underwater when sea levels rise."

In doing its part to fight this global emergency, Singapore launched a Green Plan 2030 earlier this year - a national movement to advance sustainable development.

Mr Lee then gave the audience an overview of the various facets of the Green Plan, spanning efforts to transform Singapore into a "city in nature"; using cleaner energy sources in transport; greening the power grid; cutting energy consumption in buildings; enhancing the school curriculum on sustainability; and creating green jobs.

Mr Lee acknowledged that all of these initiatives would involve trade-offs - "even painful ones" - such as a carbon tax, set at $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Companies could pass on some of these costs to consumers - for example, through higher prices," he noted.

Mr Lee, who later took part in a dialogue moderated by Economic Development Board managing director Chng Kai Fong and was closed to media coverage, stressed that the Government could not fight on its own this "defining fight of our times, and for generations to come".

He called on young Singaporeans to come on board the nation's sustainability drive, either through their chosen fields of work or by signing up to various youth-centred initiatives.

"At the end of the day, we all need to take action, in our own ways," said Mr Lee. "Going beyond ideas and discussion - as valuable and important as these are - to roll up our sleeves, get to work, experiment with different solutions, figure out the ground issues and how we can overcome them."

"And who better to take this action than young people like yourselves," he added. "Not just when it comes to sustainability, but also in tackling all the other challenges coming Singapore's way."

 

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