What is Singapore’s role in combating climate change?

Minister Desmond Lee shares how our country is affected by climate change and the initiatives and policies in place to mitigate it.

Meagan Goh
Meagan Goh

Afraid of cats, but learning to be brave. Would rather live in a fairytale.

Published: 9 November 2020, 4:13 PM

Climate change is a topic that has been discussed plenty by many politicians, influencers and celebrities across the world. 

Most of us in Singapore would probably have experienced its severity as we go through extreme weather patterns, such as hotter days. 

The question, then, is how can we help Singaporeans understand the effects of climate change on our country and how do we continue to keep them informed about the steps Singapore is taking to mitigate climate change?

This was a topic discussed by host Joel Lim and guest speaker Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of National Development, in an Instagram Live session on Nov 4. 

The session was the fifth part of the #AskNow series organised by Gushcloud Entertainment and Now Academy Singapore in partnership with the National Youth Council. 


Joel and Mr Lee also spoke about the validity of climate change anxiety. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM INSTAGRAM


Over the course of an hour, Mr Lee and Joel covered topics like the main contributors to climate change, how to reduce these contributors and how to facilitate and encourage Singaporeans to recycle. 

Mr Lee first addressed the usage of single use plastics. He stated that single use plastics cultivates a culture of wastage and are a waste of energy and resources to manufacture. 

He said: ”Plastics are a particular concern because they have carbon emission when you manufacture them. When you allow them to get into the water system or the sea, you see the tragic consequences of its impact on marine life.”

He also mentioned that a lot of carbon emission is produced when plastic is incinerated and thus, he discourages the use of single use plastics. 

On the topic of carbon emission, Mr Lee added that our buildings and industries each contribute about 20 per cent of carbon emission in Singapore. 

On Singapore’s aims and what the country is committed to achieve in the long run, he said: “We’ve made some commitments to the international community to say that we’ll keep our carbon emission at 65 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

“By 2040 or 2050, we’ll bring it down to 33 million tonnes of CO2 and then as soon as possible, in the next half of the century, bring it down to a net zero.” 

Aside from carbon emission, e-waste is another contributing factor to climate change. Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste a year. As an individual or as part of a household, we are encouraged to deposit our e-waste at recycling points that can be found around the island. 


Visit here to locate an e-waste recycling points near your home. PHOTO CREDIT: MINISTRY OF SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT


To tackle the issue on e-waste disposal, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is introducing a regulated e-waste management system based on the extended producer responsibility (EPR) approach. This is to ensure that Singaporeans who produce regulated e-waste have to be responsible for collecting these e-waste and properly treating them. 

Mr Lee also discussed the policies and initiatives Singapore has to fight against climate change. These include investing in carbon capturing technology, green master building plans, phasing out internal combustion systems in public transport and importing green energy from neighbouring countries. 

He also highlighted the One Million Trees movement that Singapore is committed to in the next 10 years because not only does it help to fight climate change, it also helps us achieve cleaner air and water, and an overall lower temperature. 

“We aim to plant many trees all across Singapore to capture carbon…If you go to a place that is shaded with trees or heavily forested, you’ll find that the urban heat island effect is mitigated so it becomes cooler,” Mr Lee said. 

Lastly, Mr Lee strongly believes that more efforts can be done to educate the people about climate change, especially the younger generation.

He said: “We need to internalise it young. (We need to) get young people to be very comfortable with outdoors and nature, not just indoors with their devices. Young people can also influence your friends, parents and grandparents. Share information (with them to) develop new habits that are much more sustainable.” 

Mr Lee also welcomed Singaporeans to send emails in to the ministry should they have any thoughts or suggestions about topics related to climate change.

For more information, visit or National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) to find out what Singapore is committed to internationally.

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